Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Write?

There are so many reasons a writer writes. Is it for the fame and fortune, that more than likely won't come, is it for the desire to be noticed, or to drive yourself completely insane? Or maybe you have a powerful message to share with the world.

I write because it makes me happy. To create new worlds so far from my own, or maybe not so far, to develop new and interesting characters, to try new structures and experiment with an idea. For me it's about the art. And if something that I write gets noticed then so be it. That's just an extra bonus. Of course I want to be published. I want my stories to be noticed. What serious writer doesn't?

Do I want fame and fortune? Again, who doesn't? But there are much easier ways to get there than by writing. I know very few writers that actually make a living at what they do, but I know many writers that have written fabulous stories and have been published by many a literary magazine or trade publisher. It's definitely possible to be published, but it's hard. It's a challenge. But do I care if I ever see my name on the front of a book? Not really. Because I just want to write.

I love the feeling I get when I read a story or essay in public and people come up to me afterwards saying what a great piece it was. Or, when they come up to me month's later and say they loved that piece I read at such and such. The fact that people remember what I have written, for me, is validation enough.

But I still work my hardest to learn new techniques that have worked for other writers. I am always trying to hone my craft, perfect my art, even though I know it will never be perfect. It might be good, it can always be better, and someone will always think I could have or should have done this or that differently. In the end, all that matters is how happy I am with the finished product.

And then I submit those stories to contests, to literary mags, in the hopes that someone else will see the vision I had while writing it. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. And sometimes, someone likes a story that I was not even particularly pleased with, but sent it out anyway.

Like most writers, I am my own worst critic. You can edit a story ten times and on the eleventh, still find something that could be changed or made better. There comes a point where you have to have faith and just let it go. If it gets turned down, it's not the worst thing that could happen. I think for me, the challenge is as much fun as the writing itself. Take a literary magazine for instance. Most get hundreds, even thousands, of submissions a year and of those submitted, maybe only publish 1-3% of those. Those numbers are demoralizing. But it also makes me want to try even harder.

Whenever I receive a rejection, I read that magazine to see what beat me out. Usually, I can see it, sometimes I can't. More often than not, I go back to the rejected piece and if there are glaring problems, I fix them and resubmit. If I don't see anything wrong with it, I resubmit. And I have seen some success from the diligence.
It may take forever, but at least, through the whole thing, I am writing.

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