Why Do You Write?

One of the first pieces of advice I received as a writer was, “don’t tell anyone you’re a writer,” this person said, “unless you actually get paid for it.”

I thought this was a great idea, because as soon as you tell someone you’re a writer, they start asking questions.

Wow. A writer? Really?

They are clearly impressed.

Well what kind of stuff do you write?

You’ve piqued their interest. They want to know more. You answer:

I have a blog and I write about my horses, my family, and writing. And I have a few articles published online.

Oh.

 

You realize they are unimpressed – you pull out the big guns. You confess:

And…I’m working on a book.

They perk up again.

Oh yeah, what’s it about?

You tell them that it’s a middle-grade fantasy adventure, set partly in this world and partly in a magical world.

Their faces belie the thought going through their head: a children’s book?

So you decide, well, you’ve already lost them, why not keep going? You throw in:

Oh, yeah, there’s a Unicorn it it, too. And fairies.

Then they give you that face, without even thinking of it. That Oh-my-god-did-she-just-say-she’s writing-a-book-about-Unicorns?

That face.

The kind of face I have when my uncle talks about aliens.

You’ve lost them, and now they are trying to think of ways to get out of the conversation. They nod, smile, wish you good luck, and they’re on their way.

Basically people aren’t impressed with the fact that you write unless you make a living as a writer.

Problem is, it’s kind of a hard thing to get into. The ultimate Catch 22: You can’t make a living as a writer without first writing for free (i.e., working on a manuscript before you can sell it), but while you are writing for free, you aren’t really considered a “writer.”

It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, and if you aren’t currently being paid for it, that means you are unemployed. OR, if you are employed, you are probably doing something like stocking magazines, or working in a laundry or waiting tables, or whatever, then coming home and taking care of your family, cooking dinner, doing laundry, driving kids to soccer practice, all the while daydreaming about what your characters are doing in that scene that you might be able to get to if you wake up an hour early tomorrow morning.

But if you are lucky enough to quit your day job for a couple of months, others in your life will assume you have all this time on your hands because:

You Don’t Do Anything All Day.

And then, because you “don’t work,” you will get all of the extra side-chores to do, like getting that thingamabob fixed and calling the plumber and oh, yeah, can you (Fill in the Blank) for me??

And then when you’re not there they say to each other:

She calls herself a writer. She hasn’t written anything!

What she really needs to do is go get her hair done.

Yeah, or update her wardrobe.

Is she gaining weight?

Are people even buying books anymore?

Or some such drivel. (It’s not that you’re paranoid, it’s just you’ve heard them talk before. Or maybe you are paranoid. Either way.)

talk behind back

Either way, I really didn’t talk much about my writing, and then when I did, I let others make me feel ashamed for doing something so impractical.

That was my mistake. Then for whatever reason, I just started owning it. I’m a writer. I write things. I hope to one day get paid for it, but for now I consider this as me building my resume.

And, yes, here’s the horrible, shameful, awful truth:

I have been working on my book for FOUR YEARS. Four years. God, I hate to say it. I’m truly embarrassed to admit it. I’m even thinking twice about revealing the truth as I type this. But I’m trying this new thing where I’m just open and honest. It’s hard, because I’m so afraid of being judged–but I’m also sick of trying to make everyone on the planet happy except me.

And, I like it when people are open and honest, even when it’s horribly embarrassing. I LOVE this scene from Love Actually, and wish more people would be this candid:

Everything else in my life, I have quit before I accomplished what I’d wanted to. And every time I think it would be easier if I just left this book in a drawer, I can’t. I can’t quit. I don’t care if I don’t finish it until I’m 85, I will keep writing this story until it’s done. I don’t even care if it’s a piece of crap. Then I will just start revising.

Do I think I’m writing the great American teen novel, and that I will have Rowlings-esque leagues of fans clamoring for autographs?

No, But I do know that I’m following the 2nd piece of writing advice I ever got:

Write the book you wish existed.

I mean, somewhere along the line, someone had to tell Stephanie Meyers she was crazy for writing about young vampires in love.

I would have read this book (my book, I mean) when I was in this place. The place between being a kid and being a teen. Ready for listening in on adult conversations, for making your own decisions, and ready for that first kiss. For adventure.

But I like my magic a little more like the Renaissance Fair than Tales From the Crypt. I was scared to shit of Dracula when I was a kid. There’s no way I would have read a book about vampires.

And I know there are tons of other readers out there who prefer their magic on the “happy” side. (Ever heard of Bronies??)

And dude, seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say:

“I HATE UNICORNS!”

You haven’t, because

EVERYONE LOVES UNICORNS.

 

http://giphy.com/embed/VRcgZakrc21ji?html5=true

When I finish my book I’ll send NPH a signed copy. Hopefully he’ll still be alive by then.

Meanwhile, I will be working on my book (and going back to school, but more on that later).

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HALL OF JUSTICE...
This what goes through my head whenever I hear the word “Meanwhile”

Some thoughts that keep me positive and motivated:

  • It took JK Rowling 7 years to write Harry Potter.
  • It took JRR Tolkien 12 years to write The Lord of the Rings.
  • It took Jane Austen 16 years to write Pride and Prejudice.

Not that I’m comparing myself or my story to these fine people and their timeless books!

It just makes me feel a little better.

But that doesn’t answer the question – why do I write?

I can’t help it. I get so many ideas in my head that if I didn’t get them out, I think it would explode. That and the fact that I think everyone needs to hear what I have to say because I’m so farging brilliant. So here I am, slaving away, creating the miracle of literature, bestowing upon you the gift that is my genius.

You’re welcome.

More Unicorn love HERE.

So why is my book still unfinished? I went back to college.

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Published by

Heidi

www.westceltgypsy.com

11 thoughts on “Why Do You Write?”

    1. And I am so happy you DO write your blog! I’m telling you, Lyn, there have been days when I just needed a little escape and your blog definitely does it for me! I love your pictures, love seeing the images of the English countryside, and Sooo interesting, going along with you to all of the historic and out-of-the-way places you visit.

      I do feel that pressure sometimes, too – and I started with more pressure on myself, to keep to a blogging schedule. But now I just try to make sure that even if they are sporadic, the posts count for something. And I think your readers see that in you, too.

      Thank you so much for being a piece of my little blogosphere! Thank you for stopping by, and taking time to comment. Have a wonderful holiday season – can’t wait to see what you brew up in your little studio! xo

      Like

  1. Thank you!! I am an artist and no I do not spend my days painting on a government support income. I work a deskjob and I enjoy life and I do not make an eurocent (I live in the netherlands) as an artist ( and artist is NOT per definition a painter btw, there are many different kinds of art) I do write a little, Or I have written. App 5 stories * ahum fairytails! about gypsy horses. Classic ones with a moral in it and symbolism. They have been lying around for years! (like a good bottle of wine?) The market for gypsy horse fairytails is ehhm.. Well, it`s like you said, I have written them for myself.
    Love you blog, hope to read more!

    Like

    1. I’m so happy to hear from you! Yes, I think we creatives HAVE to create, no matter what. And the world is a better place for it. Someone said to me recently, “Brilliance lies in creativity.” I mean where would we be without Leonardo DaVinci or Michelangelo? They were great thinkers and inventors, but were also ARTISTS! :)

      I’m sure there are other people who would want to hear your stories. The best thing that ever happened to me as a writer was to join a critique group. I would encourage you to start with your local library, or regional chapter of SCBWI (they are international), and who knows, maybe you can illustrate your own book…

      Keep painting, writing, creating. And thank you for your time spent here. xo

      Like

  2. I feel your pain. Deeply. Also? I envy you. At least you’re writing. I’ve let my blog die on the vine … partly because I needed a break from the whole blogosphere thing … and partly because I felt it was time to branch out and try to do some writing that I might one day actually be able to sell.

    Settled on trying my hand at writing a script. So far, I’ve got lots of information and advice about how to write a script. What I don’t have is a script. Or even part of a script. Or even a script outline. And now I’m beginning to wonder if I truly want to write one. I don’t know if I have fiction in me … and what’s worse is: I can’t tell if I actually don’t have fiction in me, or if I’m just too much of a pussy to force myself to write some and find out.

    I’ve also toyed with starting a political blog … where I could rant and rave and get my blood pressure up … but who wants to rant and rave and get their blood pressure up? Besides, the Good Guys just won.

    Lately, I’m feeling tempted to return to my blog … but that form of writing ain’t gonna get me outta this cubicle anytime soon.

    Basically, I’m stuck … and I need to get unstuck soon … because, even though I don’t know what to write about, I know I need to write SOMETHING.

    So see? You’re well ahead of me. Good luck with the novel. :)

    Like

    1. Hey Daddy,
      ( I feel kind of weird calling you Daddy, but since that’s your handle, we’ll go with it.)
      I have noticed a lull in your blog. And I get it. I totally get it. I was feeling pretty much the same way, until I read this post by @SpeechWriterGuy on his blog, The Red Pen of Doom.
      I go through these phases of “WHY am I doing this?” (blogging), especially when I 1.) don’t make any money from it, and 2.) really don’t have that many readers. (although I TREASURE the readers I do have. Thank you, readers!)
      In his post, he refers to a blogger needing an average of 10K hits a day to be relevant and/or make any money from their blog. I thought about hosting ads here, but I hate seeing ads on blogs (the links on my sidebar are unpaid, for personal friends), and I’m lucky if I get over 50 hits a day. Now, I’m totally psyched at those 50 hits, don’t get me wrong. But I also realize I’m no Pioneer Woman or Blogess.
      What I got out of Guy’s article was the old saying, “Quality Over Quantity.” If you write for YOUR audience, and stay true to your message/story/voice/whatever, that’s what really counts, and readers will be drawn to you for your authenticity.
      And that is what I want to get to you – your blog is GOOD. You write with a unique voice, an irreverent sense of humor, and strike some sort of chord with your readers. I usually end up smiling or laughing (sometimes crying) after I’ve read one of your posts.
      So, if you want to start a screenplay, or get political, just do it on the blog you already have. You have readers, you’ve established a voice. Just because you decide to cover new subject matter doesn’t mean you will lose us, it just makes you all the more interesting.
      And don’t feel bad – I have notes for some sort of screenplay/script/cable TV show on my computer, too. It’s completely different from anything else I write (more like Knocked Up meets Sex and the CitySuburbs), and who knows if anything will ever come of it. But you know, you get these ideas, and you have to do something with them. Right now it’s just a bunch of PG-13 dialogue parked somewhere in my documents file, added to occasionally, and tucked away for a rainy day.
      So, yeah, I get being stuck. Think of what you want to say, and say it, ON YOUR BLOG. Will it get you out of your cubicle? Maybe not. But if you do end up submitting work to an editor or agent, they will get to see that you have some writing chops, they will see that you have an audience, and they’ll see the real you – and will probably like what they see.
      You already have a platform. Use it.
      Keep it up, and thanks for your comment.

      Like

  3. Well this is just great. Now you’ve got me considering to blog again. Trauma – what kind of blog? Diary blog, a rag, funny, anonymous, brutally honest? A blog about art (yawn) – a FUNNY blog about art (I’ll never work in the industry . . .) People can’t handle the truth.

    Like

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