Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This Is Supposed to Be Fun

By David Sharp

Do you ever need to remember why you got involved with this whole writing madness anyway? It's fraught with setbacks and disappointments. Inspiration is fickle. Industry professionals often respond with silence, or otherwise with contradictory feedback. Readers run hot and cold on you. You read books that are leagues better than you feel you'll ever be. You invest your heart into a manuscript and then throw it out there to a world that can seem rather heartless.

If you're unpublished, you wonder how to cross that threshold. If you are published, you wonder how to increase your book sales. If you've won awards, you think about bigger awards. If you're a bestseller, you think about getting higher on the list. The next hill is always higher. But before you cycle into despair, wait! There's hope!

Why did you get started with all this?

It says here you have a high tolerance for rejection, little
common sense, chronic optimism and you are fond of coffee.
Mr. Sharp, have you considered being a writer?
I'll bet the first time you put the proverbial pen to paper was because you had a story to tell, and nobody else in the world could tell it. Most writers, I'd further guess, never sat down and thought, "Know what? I think I'm going to be a writer."

Can you even remember the point you 'became' a writer? Or maybe story is coded in your DNA. You couldn't stop if you wanted to. If you lost your hands, you'd learn to type with your toes. You wake up at obscene hours to jot down story notes you fear you won't remember in the morning.  You may be nuts, but YOU, my friend, are a writer!

It best of times.
It worst of times
Writing is much older than the New York Times Bestseller List.

Our ancient ancestors felt a need to write. Without computers, paper, pens or even an established alphabet, they still created cave paintings. The desire to record their stories came independent of a need for book deals, literary awards or record sales. I suspect they had a story scratching on the inside of their skulls, and this was the only way to get it out. You're no different. The process of writing and perfecting that story is the primal drive that pushes you to do this. (I mean, you can't possibly be in it for the money, right?)

Love's Labours Found.

Enjoy the journey.
Even if it's a looong journey.
Are you happier in the euphoria of inspiration while you're tapping out a story, or is it when you're looking at the final copy at the end of the process? For me, the warm glow of accomplishment is only an echo of joy I found in the construction. Maybe this is why I find editing so easy to get into. It gives me a chance to relive the experience of writing my characters to life. I have even found myself strangely envious of my own readers. They are experiencing my story for the first time, a thing I can never do again. It gives me a weird jealous nostalgia.

Writing is not a means to an end.

Imagine receiving the greatest accolade you've ever dared to hope for. Yours is the book that cured cancer. You experience all the fanfare and confetti and parades and champagne you can handle. Now ask yourself, how much dust will you allow to settle on your computer before you're at it again. If you're anything like me, you'd actually be considering excuses to cut out of the party a little early just to hop onto your latest project. It's not wrong to want success for your writing. Nor is it wrong to hope your writing sends a little money your way. But there are definitely easier avenues to either of those things. So you must be writing because you love writing. And that's the best reason to write!
Go on. Push those keys.
You know you want to...


What are you still doing here?

Get to it!

...Or check out the following articles for more inspiration.

Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

Why Writers Write

6 Ways to Fall in Love with Writing

Are you still here? Well if you're going to linger, you might as well leave a helpful tip in the comments.


Deborah Nielsen said...

Definition of fun: pleasure, enjoyment, amusement, or someone or something that causes this.
Definition of crazy: distracted with desire or excitement; absurdly fond; passionately preoccupied.
For me, writing is fun and it makes me a little crazy. Why be any other way?

David Sharp said...

Thanks for commenting, Deborah. I think it's the things for which we are passionate that have the power to drive us the most crazy. Writing definitely fits in that category - But it's a madness of love.

Patricia Stoltey said...

The odd thing about writing is how seductive it is when you've been away from it for a while to handle the tasks and crises of daily life. It starts as a small hum in the back of your soul and gradually gets louder and louder until you can no longer ignore the noise. That noise is the new story idea, the characters demanding your attention, the lure of words streaming across the page. I'm there, just in time to sign up for NaNoWriMo.

David Sharp said...

You are right, Patricia. It's hard to leave the ol' keyboard dusty for long. Congrats on your NaNoWriMo inspiration. Here's hoping it will help you push through your 50,000.

Laura Mahal said...

David, you've done it again... Made me laugh, prompted me to think, and inspired me to sit right down and compose 1,475 words for today's NaNoWriMo challenge. (Not that I'm counting or anything.)

You really do "get it" - this gig we've signed up for - this roller coaster ride toward fame, fortune, and the chance to actually GO to pick up our Novel peace prize in Stockholm. (It's my fault, actually. Bob Dylan is coming over for chai. We planned this a long time ago, people.)

Best of luck with your writing and thank you for the wonderful, amusing and edifying blog posts.

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