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Let’s be honest.

18

April 25, 2010 by Renee

So, I’m just going to throw something out there for you to chew on, savor, spit back out if you want to and see what happens. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a while, a little thing that makes me want to shake people silly. A claim made by many authors seeking publication that I don’t buy for a second in most cases. Actually, it’s a couple of claims.

What the heck am I talking about? I’ll tell you, of course. I read a lot of blogs by agents, publishers and authors. Nearly every one at some point asks the question, “Why do you write?” Some of them elaborate on this question asking if we write to publish, to be famous, to make money, etc. Now it’s not the question that bothers me, it’s an awesome question. No, it’s the answers.

Not once (except for my answers) in all of these blogs do I see an author answering yes to any of these questions. If they do, there is a qualifier like. ‘because it seems logical’ or ‘but I don’t care if it happens’. Seriously? Who are we fooling but ourselves with those answers? Cue the angry hoard now…good, looks like you’ve got yourselves properly riled up and indignant. Have some brownies while I explain.

Now, I agree that few of us begin writing for the sole purpose of publishing. We begin because we enjoy it; soon it becomes almost obsessive and eventually we cannot imagine doing anything else. But to be actively seeking an agent or a publisher and claim that you are not writing for publication? To spend every spare moment learning, creating and developing your platform and spend hours on one page that no one will see? To put all of that work into learning and growing as a writer, to complete your manuscript, polishing it until it shines, and to go through the horror that is writing a query letter and going through the query process, and NOT do it in order to publish?? Why else would you do it? And if one of you tells me it’s for the love of writing I will shake you. I will.

I’ll be honest. I’m a poor liar anyway, even to myself.

Why do I write? Because I love it. I couldn’t stop even with a twelve step program.

Do I write to publish? It would make sense that after the work I put into my novels I’d seek publication. Why wouldn’t I? The only thing better than writing is someone reading my writing. Do I write with the thought of publication in mind? No, but I edit with that thought.

Do I write to be famous? Let’s think about that. No, I don’t write to be famous. The likelihood of that happening is pretty slim. But do I want to be famous? Hmm. Let’s lay out the facts for this answer:

Fame = visibility

Visibility = readers knowing my name

Readers knowing my name = sales

Sales = the freedom to write more. (and possibly a cabana boy, but that’s totally a bonus)

Answer: Yes, I would welcome a little bit of fame.

I started writing because I love it. I can’t imagine not writing. I will continue writing whether I publish or not, but I will never stop trying to get my work published. Why? Because I’m stubborn, because I refuse to admit defeat, and because I know my writing is good enough.

So, I’ll ask all of you again and I want to remind you that it doesn’t make us less of a writer to admit we have goals, ambition and a desire to turn our passion into a career. That makes us smart.

Do you write to publish, to be famous, or because you enjoy it when your eyes bleed and your soul shatters every time you hit a wall?

How about all of the above?

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18 thoughts on “Let’s be honest.

  1. Twills says:

    I, merely a dirty old blogger, actually have some kind of terror of anyone seeing anything I write. I break out into a cold sweat every time I run into someone who says, "Oh, I've visited your website!". The horror! (Though you could quite possibly say it's my subject matter it happens with my other blog too, the one about general family-type stuff) Serious writing? No, I'd never recover.

  2. Renee Miller says:

    I see you writing the funniest, most in your face novel ever and you'd be awesome. I'll let you in on a secret though, every author (except for the hardcore lunatics) is terrified to have people read their work. It's a weird thing. We write so that someone will read, yet we're terrified they might just do that. I'm a hardcore lunatic, after the first couple of readers, I'll push my stuff on anyone. Even that guy that follows me everywhere, don't know what's up with him, but I see him everywhere, smiling his toothless grin. Even gave me a box of cheezies once. Don't ask. But if he asked about my writing I'd be like, "Here, check it out." (has sudden flashback of Sonny with a Chance sketch)So all of that means, your blogs are awesome. I don't always comment, but I read them and I giggle.

  3. Henry Lara says:

    I really liked this post. I often get looks when I tell other writers "hey, nice piece, you should submit it somewhere!" If not to be published, honestly why bother? Don't get me wrong, I love every minute (well almost every minute) of writing, and I don't expect to pay the mortgage solely by writing (although that would be very nice). But make no mistake. Writing is a career for me, and I pursuit it very seriously. Even if it may never pay ALL the bills.

  4. Renee Miller says:

    And there is nothing wrong with that. To write because you love it is great. It's how we all start in many things. But to be able to do what you love and earn a living doing it? How awesome is that? Thanks Henry.

  5. Moi? I write to be published. I am not interested in amusing myself or my six closest friends with bits of brilliance.I enjoy the process of writing, especially the process of rewriting because I love to see my projects reach fruition.As for people who treat their writing like art—I was an artist for 30 years. Believe me, me and all my other artist buddies didn't do art for art's sake, we did it so we could pay the mortgage.

  6. Renee Miller says:

    Awesome comment, Maria. I've found rewriting has become an addiction. I don't want to start, but once I do, it's so hard to pull myself away from it."I am not interested in amusing myself or my six closest friends…" love that.

  7. Rita J. Webb says:

    You've hit on something bigger than writing. There is a social mentality that has taught us from a young age not to WANT anything. I remember my parents teaching me never to ask for anything. My mother had gone strawberry picking and there were baskets of strawberries all over the table. I knew better than to ask for one. I was just 3 or 4 years old.When I started writing, I wanted to be published and felt guilty for it. I had to fight myself to put my work forward until it became natural to say, "Hey, read my story."

  8. Renee Miller says:

    Wow, Rita you've got it. Exactly. Although I'm not surprised. To admit we're writing for more than the pleasure we derive from creating, to put ourselves out there and say we want to make money, we want to be successful is scary. What happens if we fail? If we succeed and we begin writing 'for the Man' as another writer mentioned somewhere else, then what does that make us?Thanks. Good point to ponder. I want to point out too, I'm always saying to my kids "If you don't ask, you'll never know." I'm sorry that other parents don't encourage this.

  9. Ee Leen Lee says:

    why do I write? only because I'm scared that if I don't then something will go unsaid

  10. Renee Miller says:

    Ee Leen; I totally get what you're saying, but do you write to publish? Or is it a hobby? If someone asked if you write for publication, for people to know who you are, to see your book on a shelf in Walmart, what's your answer to that? Just curious. If you write simply for pleasure and have no intentions of sending your work off to a publisher, that's fine too. A lot of people do that and are happy doing so.

  11. Hey,Renee. Writing is NOT a hobby. It's my career and my business.I love to write and cringe when anyone reads my work and comments. Knowing it's necessary to take the blows, I get over it.About publishing, I write to publish and do. It's called self-publishing. The process has become much easier than when I first started. I felt foolish when asked how many query letters I'd sent? (By members of my writing group.)I replied, 30, some by snail-mail and some by email. BTW, email submissions only became acceptable in the last 4 or 5 years."Warnings" were write the perfect letter, go to the post office and mail it certified, return receipt requested. Out of 30, I received maybe 3 of what I call, "Sorry Charlie, Starkiss Don't want Tuna Like You" Meaning we can't can you and sell you, even with a long shelf life. Not sure about the number of responses because I was traveling too fast for them to catch up with me.Please understand, I started writing professionally around fifty-something. Time was was moving on, like the proverbial biological clock–related to tides and the moon. Taking into consideration all of the above, I decided to make the jump–do it myself. I researched, read, bit my nails, cried, and tossed at night, unable to sleep because of words scrolling across my eyelids. Truthfully my first book was not good, not bad, but far from being ready for a publishing house.I say this to help you understand my position on publishing. I might even be a bit angry at the industry because of their tactics. But it's their business and they are in it to make money–they are not a charity or mom and pop.So, those of you hankering for publication by the big boys, I say go for it. But don't let old father-time catch up with you. And by all means, have faith in your ability to write.

  12. Renee Miller says:

    Thanks Minnie, for your thoughts. Self publishing is not for the faint of heart and should always be approached as you describe. You should be wary, do your research and realize it's a busines. The same can be said for traditional, although it's tough to get into, you have to treat it as a business, research publishers to first make sure they're legitimate and then to make sure they're right for you and of course, be patient. But to go through all of that 'for the love' of writing. Crazy.Well said, Minnie.

  13. One more important note on seeking a publisher. In researching them know their market. They usually have list their authors and their work on the website–and they should.In other words, don't send a romance MS to a publisher of Christian Religion novels. That's a bit extreme, but folks get the point.Know your market and your personal brand. Just saying.

  14. Wendy Swore says:

    *raises hand*I write because I like to, but man oh man would I like to be published. I've got Coyote Dreams all bundled up nice and it's on its way to the Random House publisher that requested it. So hopefully in the next couple months I'll either have good news, or my first rejection. Either would be a big step for me.

  15. Susan says:

    When I first decided to write a book, I told my best friend. She asked me what I'd hope to accomplish. I said, "What do you mean?" And she ansewered, "Well, do you want to be famous?" I choked on a laugh, then said, "Um, of course, but at the moment, I'd be happy if just one person read it."Well that moment has come and gone. And yes, I still would like a little fame. But I write because it's fun. It's fun to make stuff up and I get a thrill when someone else reads it and even better if they enjoy it. Plus, it beats watching TV.

  16. ulharper says:

    I am clearly writing, not to be published, but to be famous. Check it out. I have a long term plan that involves simply people saying my name. Here goes: U.L. Harper. Because I'm only preparing for my next book to come out. People have to recognize my name. Right now it's now for sales. Right now it's not to be published. Right now, I write for the future. Look out cruel world. You have no idea what's about to happen. Wait till you see what I'm bringing. And by the way. I love it when people read my work, because when I read to be read, I mean to do just that. Be read. I've got the world to say and I'll let you be offended and figure it out. Renee, thanks for such a great blog. Scared to be read. That's just silly talk. Bring it on. I'll be sending you part two soon. Fear is for those who aren't sure they'll succeed.

  17. Renee Miller says:

    UL; You are awesome, I love the honesty in this post and in your writing. You're right, we write to be read, whether or not we admit that. Part of us, even if it's stuffed way down under insecurity and fear, wants someone to read our work. We want that validation for a job well done. But, as you so beautifully pointed out in your last line,the fear is that they won't say, 'well done.' So what? We try harder the next time. Right.

  18. Kate Quinn says:

    I've been writing just about all my life, and even if I never got published, I'd still do it. But a motivation in the back of my mind was always, "Hey, if I get good at this maybe I won't ever have to work an office job or wear a suit again." Biiiiiiig incentive.

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Renee

Renee

I like to write stuff. Sometimes it's funny. I've published some novels and short fiction. I also battle an addiction to cake and potato chips, and I sometimes have inappropriate fantasies involving Kevin Spacey.

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