Why I Write - a reflection
I wrote when I was young, because I was reading voraciously and wanted to do the thing that I was enjoying so much. I put together a small book for school one year. I don't remember what it was about, but I remember the laminated pages, self drawn illustrations, and the attempt at "chapters" that were mere paragraphs long. It was fun.
Occasionally in my mid twenties, I would write because an idea gripped me so hard that I couldn't escape it. A story formed in my head with no signs of letting go, and to be able to think of anything else, I had to get it on paper. They weren't good, but that wasn't the point. The point was to get it out so I could go about with my life. I experimented with other forms of writing: music, comedy, poetry. They never amounted to much, but they all had the same thing in common. They were writing. I'm a "creative" through and through, and writing has always been the safe area for me. Drawing and music were attempts to branch out, and while I enjoyed those as well, writing was always what I wanted to do.
At work one day, I was bored. I'd recently started reading again to pass the time, and having devoured three books back to back, I had a craving for a story. The original idea was Dexter in book form. A story following a serial killer as the main character. A sneak peek into the life of someone deranged. A few quick Google searches later, I'd found a few books that seemed along those line but not exactly what I wanted, and then a mix of friendly advice and writing anecdotes from over the years came together.
"If you can't find the story you want to read, write your own."
So I started. I wrote a three page short story from the perspective of the killer, stalking and abducting a woman from a park. I was happy with it. I'd just read a few books, and writing felt natural to me. It came out well. I shared it with a few friends, and the sentiment was the same. "We want to hear more, keep going." So I did. I tapped away at the keyboard at work between actual work, thinking of next chapter ideas on my breaks, planning plot points at home as I had dinner. In three weeks, I had 30,000 words and a story from beginning to end. Again, I shared it with friends and they all enjoyed it. I was happy. I'd written something substantial.
After some research, I decided to self publish it. I wanted to solidify the thing I'd spent that much time on. I wanted something to show for my effort. The first time I held the book in my hand was amazing. It had my name on it. It had a cover. It looked like a book.
I was addicted.
I decided the second story would be a full novel. 60,000 words, double what I'd done before. It was going to be tough but I was going to make it happen. That book took me two years. I had nothing figured out about the process. I didn't have a routine, I didn't know how to make the words happen. I'd try and hate it and give up. I'd wait for motivation instead of making my own. I tried planning and plotting it out and realized that took all the joy of exploring the story away from me. I quit and started on new stories, just to quit those and go back to the original. I explored writing spaces online, submitting short stories to places in hopes of validation. Finally, something clicked and the motivation to get the story told and finished hit me.
After two years of toying with things, the second book was done. I decided I was going to make this book better than the last, more professional. I spent money on a cover design. I marketed. I treated it like a real book, because it was. It was the first true novel, and I was beyond ecstatic that I'd made it work. I decided from then on, I was going to put my all behind this writing thing. I wanted to make it a job. I wanted to make it my life.
I found a writing habit that worked for me, and stuck to it. A year and a bit later, I had a third book. A new story that I enjoyed. I spent money on the cover design. I hired a beta reader and proofreader to polish it as best they could. I threw money at marketing, solidified my social media presence, created a brand. I built this website. I was determined to "take this seriously and treat it like a business". It worked well, and I was proud of the book I'd put out. I also knew that I needed to keep at it. I was growing with each new release, and I was looking to the future.
I churned out the first draft of the newest book in three months. 65,000 words, and I was excited. I had ambition. I was going to submit it to agents, get that elusive "traditional publishing" contract that writers dream of. They'd do the marketing and cover and editing for me. It would go everywhere, and I'd become a true author. I started the edits myself, discussed it with friends, and caught massive plot holes that couldn't be ignored. I started a second draft, still looking forward to the success I was going to have with it when it came out.
And everything screeched to a halt.
Why am I writing all this today? It's because I need to remind myself of the reason that I do this writing thing in the first place. It's not for money (though that would be nice) and it's not for fame (I'm too antisocial for that) and it's not for recognition or even to say that I've done it. It's for me. It's for the love of creating a story from nothing. Weaving words in ways that make me smile. Exploring thoughts and emotions and feelings that rattle around in my head. At the end of the day, I write because I enjoy it, and I need to remember that.
I keep working on the second draft of this story and thoughts come to me like "This isn't good enough for the market." or "There needs to be more depth if you want to make it from this book". It keeps me from writing. It takes the enjoyment from the process. So I needed to center myself. Find the passion that started this entire thing.
I write to create the stories I want to read.