Friday, June 15, 2012

A Reason to Write

A well-published novelist told me recently that a writer should enjoy the building of a novel regardless of whether it ever sees "print" or not.  A writer's joy should come from the mental effort of producing a satisfactory cogent and compelling story.  Advances, royalties, and other rewards are nice, but they are a thing apart from the writing itself.

I have found this true for short stories, as witness my dismal 1:5 sales ratio. But then, I write what I damn well please to exorcize my personal demons and if a story sells, so much the better. I take no offense at rejection (well, maybe a little.) The process of creating worlds, populating them with curious creatures, and putting them in complicated situations lets me feel like a minor old testament god. It is very satisfying.

Nobody knows where the impulse to create comes from or where lies the source of the spring that waters a writer's imagination.  Yet writers seem impelled to create and put their creations into a reasonable form so that others might enjoy the result.  Some might think this a form of exhibitionism, of an ego-driven need to assert their vision on the world.

There might be a touch of this, but for the most part writers care less about acclaim than they do about the pleasure they get from a well-turned phrase, of choosing the perfect word, of crafting a well-defined character with depth and an emotional range.  There is a surge of almost orgasmic pleasure at putting the final bit of polish on a completed work.  This pleasure is rarely mentioned at conventions when being bright and amiable seems the better choice of presenting oneself and selling whatever books are waiting to be sold or signed than sharing ones innermost thoughts.

Joseph Campbell advised people to follow their joy to attain happiness.  This is true in writing as in everything else:  A writer should follow the joy of writing for its own sake. 


  1. Bud, any chance of those other stories seeing the light of day on Amazon or elsewhere?

  2. Dave, you mean the unpublished ones (of which I have many)?


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