Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Which Love Do You Write For?

Why do you write?

A simple question. Many common answers, some probably better than others.

For fun.

To entertain others.

Because I must. The voices in my head won't shut up until I set them loose on a page.

Because I can do better than most of the crap that gets published these days. (Not my reason, but I've seen it.)

Because I love it.

I think for most of us, love comes into play somehow. Some kind of love is involved. Is it the love of the writing process? Is it the love of the finished product? Is it desire for the love of readers?

For some, that last one is a solid NO. "I write for myself, not the reader." I think that's valid, but I only fall partway into that category. When I start drafting a story, the first, most instinctive criterion is to write a book I'd want to read. (This is always a good idea, considering the number of times I'll go through a manuscript with revisions and editing passes.)

But I also write for the reader ... I hope I do, anyway. I try to write books teenage-RC would've liked to read, and I know there are plenty of current teenagers who have just enough in common with RC-of-ages-past to enjoy similar elements.

I try to create characters who resonate. Forgive the physics intrusion, but for resonance to happen, you need two things—the sounding tone (provided by the author) and the resonant object (the reader). It's kind of a cool thing to have someone think you wrote in some brilliant symbolism, but you know it wasn't your conscious intention. That reader brought some of the brilliance by viewing it through their own lens.

(And yeah, I think I just mixed sound and optics metaphors there ... turning off physics-brain now.)

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the hard stuff about writing and publishing that we forget the love—whatever love it was that brought us to this art. We fret over query letters. (Guilty) Rejections deject us. (Guilty) We fear our writing sucks so profoundly that no one can put their finger on why, so we'll never be able to fix whatever's wrong. (Guilty-Squared)

If you find yourself in a place like that, stop and take a breath. Remember why you're putting yourself through all the contortions and seeming torture that it takes. I hope on some level, it's because you love it.

Love takes work. Love brings pain. But love is worth it.


Richard said...

If we want to make sales today, we must find a balance between writing for ourselves and writing for the reader. If we don't care about making sales today, we can write just for ourselves and maybe there will be some sales someday.

SC Author said...

Awesome post :) I've been thinking about this too, and I've realized that I don't mind if I don't get published (oh gosh, I can NOT believe I said that). I would love, love love love to be published. It's my greatest dream. But I love to write, and I'll keep doing it. It's fun :)

Anonymous said...

Great reminder. Sometimes it's hard to remember in the midst of hard edits and writing times. It is all about loving it though, or else it wouldn't be worth doing. Definitely not getting paid enough, or anything, to stick through it if I hated it.

E.B. Black said...

Love is definitely worth it. I want to make a living as a writer someday because I'd like to support myself doing something I love. I watched my father, all his life, do something he hated for work and it always bothered me and I never wanted to be the same.

Anyway, I write for the readers who have similar taste to me. So yeah, basically what I am trying to say is I don't write for me or for the readers, I write for both. I have an idea I want to convey to them and I want them to enjoy like I enjoyed writing it. Hope that makes sense.

roro said...

congrats w/ the sale

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this post. I think part of the reason I'm always so leery of taking the next step (whatever it is) is that I've always loved words - both reading and writing. Making it a business is a little scary. Thankfully I have my good AQC buddies to kick my butt when I get stuck :)

(congrats again!!!)

A.M.Supinger said...

This is a good reminder, right when I needed it. Thanks, RC!