Monday, April 11, 2011

Why do I do this?

As I write the final chapter of my latest novel I know that act will not mean that the work is done, but that I have merely reached the bottom of a steep months-long rewrite slope, a slope that I must climb while carrying the burden of the work's assumptions and mistakes on my back. Should I go on or should I abandon the work of a few years of on-again, off-again development? Will the finished product be worth reading? Am I just kidding myself that this is worth the effort?

I doubt I'm the only writer to face these issues, not the only one who wonders why they make the effort.

Why do I do it when I realize that I am never going to be as good as the writers I admire, never going to win awards, and probably will be brutalized by those critics who bother to read the finished work? In fact, I doubt that this particular novel will ever see the desk of an agent, much less that of an editor, given the sorry state of publishing and the byzantine process through which an author attempts to reach the reader. Eventual remuneration is, of course, beyond any hope of expectation.

So why push on to finish the damn thing? Why give up time better spent on other endeavors when hope is so diminished? Why attempt the drawn-out novel form when short works provide a quicker response? I ask myself this question at the end of each draft chapter and after each unsatisfactory rewritten passage.

Here is my answer for today, which may be different from anyone elses', and probably different from my own thoughts in a week or two. But for now, for this moment, for this day, I provide my answer.

I keep on working at this novel because I love my protagonist, his tribulations and triumphs and the choices he must make. I do so because I love the sweep of the background and the cast of characters that have exploded from my muse into a reality on the page. I am intrigued by the challenges they face and overcome, the twists and turns of the plot, and the interweaving of story arcs.

I keep on writing this novel because there is a joy in crafting a story out of cold words and giving them emotional voice.

I keep writing because I enjoy the art of making a line parse properly, and of building scenes that contains all of the necessary elements and are a pleasure to read.

Finally, I will keep writing because there is the simple satisfaction of a job well done.

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