Love Writing for Itself

It’s been a crazy-busy time, what with holiday preparations and all.  I’ve pulled out my polymer clay again after a long hiatus, and am facing the challenge of making a camel to go with the Nativity set I’ve been making piece by piece for my sister, Susan, over the years.   Camels are weird, but I’ve managed the basic creature and will be adding details next.

Projects in Process

Projects in Process

I also crafted some handmade items for a few people on my list for whom nothing in the stores seemed to fit.  Actually, I’m not quite done with those, either!

We also send lots of Christmas cards…  With handwritten notes and a Christmas letter.  This takes time.  Jim handles the decorating, bless him, so the house looks very festive.  And we’re inviting a few folks over to decorate gingerbread and sugar cookies on Saturday.   There are other types of cookies I’ll make on my own.

We don’t do all of this because we’re trying to be Martha Stewart or anything.  We do it because we enjoy it – because it’s nice to punctuate the end of the year by saying “Hey!  We like you!  Thanks for being a bright spot in the world.”

But all these additional activities do make me feel pinched for finding time to do the other thing I really love: writing.  Why I write is something I want to talk about because – despite the popularity of SF/F – this is a really hard time to be not a writer – but to be a published author.

In the last week, I’ve had three or four people tell me that they want to write, that I’ve been an inspiration to them.  While I’m thrilled that these people have discovered the joy of telling stories, I also feel concern that they may not realize what they’re getting into.  While it’s true that you can’t possibly sell a book without writing one first – writing that book doesn’t mean that it’s going to sell.

You’ve got to love the writing for the sake of the writing, not because you think writing a book will automatically lead to being published.  I wrote several novel-length manuscripts before selling Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls.  This doesn’t mean your first novel won’t sell – mine eventually did, although only after I’d added to it and revised it significantly.  (This was The Pipes of Orpheus.)

I’m not going to blight my mood by talking about how the market is now.  I’m going to talk about love.  I’m writing a piece right now that has me obsessed.  When I’m writing it, I don’t want to stop.  When I’m not writing it, I’m thinking about it.  However, it’s very odd.  It does not fit any market parameters that I can think of except that I guess it’s Fantasy.  Maybe.

But it’s not epic fantasy, urban fantasy, or sword and sorcery.  It’s just the story that has me obsessed.  When it came to me, I had to make the choice – am I a writer or am I someone who writes to be published?  I decided that I’m a writer.

I’m even writing it long-hand, which is the way I wrote my first several novels.  I only switched to writing first drafts directly on the computer when I was under contract and couldn’t afford the time to retype.  So I’m being horribly unprofessional.

But I’m in love.  I’m writing something I really, really want to write.

So here’s a holiday gift for you and you and you and you…  For the people who have contacted me over the years saying, “You’ve inspired me.  I really want to write.”

Make sure you’re writing because you’d love to write even if you never see publication.  Write because you have a story you want to tell, a story no one else is telling the way you’d tell it.  Write because – even with packages to wrap, cards to send, presents to make – you can’t wait to grab a pen and start scribbling.

Write from love.


4 Responses to “Love Writing for Itself”

  1. Sally Says:

    Nice camel.

  2. Nicholas Wells Says:

    Ironic that you would post this, as I am myself tearing into my next project with the same fire you talk about. Only thing slowing me down is research (and a couple of plot headaches).

    Thing is, with that fire, I trust it will find the right home at the right time. So I worry about telling the story the way it MUST be told. It doesn’t matter what “the world” says it should be. My characters are so alive I want to take them to meet my friends. The world runs on its own, I’m just watching.

    I’m glad you’re in that joyful spot again. I hope you stay there. We do our best work there.

  3. Renee Carter Hall Says:

    “When it came to me, I had to make the choice – am I a writer or am I someone who writes to be published? I decided that I’m a writer.”

    That resonates very deeply with me right now. Thank you.

  4. Jane Lindskold Says:

    I’m really glad this touched some folks. Right now, so many people are pushing publication (including the “hey, you can do it yourself”), that I think the writing itself is getting lost.

    Oh, and by the writing, I don’t just mean the text, I mean the reasons (different for many people) that we write.

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