Yesterday I attended a meeting of Kentucky Romance Writers, my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. As always, it was fun and refreshing to be among my fellow writers... to hang out with people who are just as nutty as me about books and words and romance and reading. Our guest speaker was the very gracious Michael Embry, a member of our group, who gave a presentation called "Pitfalls in Publishing".
He shared some of his experiences in the publishing industry, some humorous and some unfortunate. As it turns out, other published authors who were at the meeting shared similar experiences. An author's book is contracted by an editor at a publishing company, only to have the editor leave the publishing company before the book is published, taking the manuscript so that no one else at the company can find it. A publishing company closes before an author who contracted with them gets to see his book in print. An author discovers that her books are missing pages, and rather than ending on page 275, the final 100 pages are missing. Unexpected expenses mean the author's already small royalty checks are even smaller.
With all these pitfalls, I started thinking "What's the point?"
But I knew the point.
The point is the writing. Sure, all of us wanna-be-published-authors would love to make a ton of money. But for the vast majority of us, that's a very, very small part of the dream. We write because we love it. We write because it's fulfilling on a very personal level. We write because we have to.
In our group of writers there is great diversity. Some write historical. Some pen steamy romantic stories. Others write sweet, still others suspense and mystery. But for all of us, I suspect the "root" of the writing is the same.
For me, writing gives me something that's mine alone. I think many women are in the same situation as me... with jobs and families that need our attention and hang lots of responsibilities on us. Everyday I'm a teacher to over 300 students, a wife to a really cool guy, a mom to three wild boys. But sometimes I forget about myself. Sometimes days and weeks go by before I realize that I'm something to everybody else in my life, but nothing to myself.
That's where writing comes in. Oh, there are plenty of times it goes on the back-burner, as I deal with sick babies, extra duties at work, bill-paying, and all the other stuff that goes along with being a 30-something woman in a middle class family. But I know the writing is there, and when I find time to get to it, it centers me, brings me back to myself, reminds me that there's a person inside me who's JUST ME.
My characters are who I want them to be... even though sometimes they become something other than I originally intended. I get to go places in my writing that I only dream about in my real life. I experience adventure, intrigue, romance, humor. I control the destinies of the people in my stories. I escape the real world for a bit in favor of a world of my own creation.
I write because I have to, and for whatever bit of life I give my characters, the writing gives me SO MUCH MORE than I give it.
Why do you write? I'd love to know!