Dear readers and friends,My blog is changing. I’ll be sharing more personal perspectives on the writing life rather than teaching fiction. I find that I need to commit more time to my writing, and some things, alas, must go. It’s exciting to have a new book coming out, and of course, the next one’s under way. They’ll now get more of my attention. I hope you’ll still drop by and catch some of my musings on the writing life and, soon, some insights into my latest book. With many thanks–Kay ___________________________________________
Why I Write
I’m probably not the only writer who sometimes asks herself, Why the hell am I doing this? Writing, that is. Especially, writing novels. The answer sure isn’t glamor, money and prestige. Of course there is some income from the endeavor, but for most of us, it ain’t a lot. As for glamor, the last time I felt glamorous was sitting in my best dress at the Hugo ceremony and hearing my name from the stage–not winning an award, but being thanked by an editor. Yup, that was the high point in glamor. And those of us in the trenches know the business too well to hope for, of all things, prestige.
So if the money isn’t great, the job is rather pedestrian, and it’s short on prestige, why do it? Most of the answers I’ve heard don’t convince me. Writers may say that they want to connect with readers, or bring certain characters to life, or that they just plain “love it.”
Here is a friend of mine bravely trying to hit a golf ball out of the rough. Play it as it lies is the rule. Somehow this reminded me of the writing life.
I’ve also heard writers say they have stories that just have to get out. (I’ve never quite understood that one. What happens if the story doesn’t come out?)
I was one of those authors who, until a memorable evening last week would have answered that I write novels because “I love it.” But when an experienced novelist and writing teacher raised an eyebrow at my answer, I threw it back at him. Why do you write?
He answered: Because there’s nothing else I’m suited for.
I had an immediate reaction to that one, and it was: that’s the truth. In all honesty, this is probably the real reason I write these long, long stories taking up months of my life between page one and page 413. And put up with the plot that won’t and the editor that doesn’t get my story.
I like that answer because it’s humble, and as close to the truth as I may get . . . and it reminds me that I don’t have to be happy every day writing. I don’t have to be in love with it every day, or win a Hugo. So, the real answer, please: There’s nothing else I know how to do. Writing is what I do.
May not be profound– or is it?