. . . and it was full of other discouraged writers.
OK, lame joke. But sometimes you just have to laugh. It’s that aggravating. Writing, I mean.
What keeps us at it? Naked ambition. Or, more generously: Love. An idiotic addiction to storytelling. Actually, I haven’t figured this out yet. There are a bunch of reasons not to write, certainly: It’s tough to get published, or if you go indie, tough to find readers; it’s tough to keep readers. Also:
- Annoying, bad reviews,
- WIPs that won’t catch fire.
- The doldrums where nothing much gets done despite best intentions.
- Watching dreck sell like crazy.
- Getting carpel tunnel from too much keyboarding.
- People asking “When they’re going to make a move out of your novel.”
But stop me before I head to the bar.
Really, though. There are decent reasons to write, but it’s just a bit elusive to pin them down. This morning my list is:
- The amazing experience of plumbing your own depths for a story, and miraculously finding one.
- Membership in a community of other people who find storytelling an important way to spend time (i.e., other writers).
- Hearing from readers who found your story meaningful, fun, or both!
- The odd and mystical experience of loving certain characters one has (after all) made up.
- Reprieve from the incessant demands of other options: finding a real job, paying attention to politics, cleaning closets, and using that exercise machine now doing time as a clothes rack.
- Keeping existential dread at bay. Um. Just threw that in there, though at some level I believe its true.
I’d like to hear your reasons. But please don’t say: “I can’t not write.” Yes you can. There are always choices. Best to try once in a while to articulate why you chose this exasperating, random, and often rewarding life of a writer. Make a list. It might provide some surprises.
And keep you from griping in the bar at conventions.
A community of writers, e.g., Mike Resnick, Greg Bear, Peter Orullian, Louise Marley, Sharon Shinn, Jay Lake and daughter Bronwyn, J.A. Jance and her dachshund.