Why write?

Any article, magazine, book or website on the craft of writing will tell you what a difficult state the publishing industry is in. While writers now have the option of self-publishing, and publishing in electronic formats, we are worker harder than ever before and and for less money (and prestige).

These days only the biggest names in the publishing industry make enough money to live on, and while some authors are respected, just as many aren’t even noticed. The phrase ‘everyone has a novel in them’ both democratizes the writing community while also making it harder to get your voice heard. The idea being that it is easier now than ever before to publish, but the overall quality of writing is also lower.

But is this true? These days writers have to invest far more of their time, energy, skills and—yes—money to see results. Mentoring happens in creative writing classes and through editorial/mentoring services which most writers pay for with their own funds, because it’s important to them to increase their skill set. Of course, the most valuable contribution any writer can make to their career is to put in the time, working on their own stories and pieces as much as possible, experimenting, editing and discovering what works best for them. And reading widely and insatiably, of course.

CIMG0252 bookshelves from morguefile

credit: morguefile

I remember being obsessed with J.D. Salinger when I was a teenager, not just The Catcher in the Rye but also his other books: Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories etc. When I finally got my hands on his biography by Ian Hamilton, aptly titled: In Search of JD Salinger, I quickly devoured it. As most people know, Salinger was a recluse who lived an isolated life in Cornish, New Hampshire. After his initial success, he withdrew from the public eye entirely, but continued writing (though he stopped publishing). Only since his death have his unpublished manuscripts been brought to the attention of the public.

These days, you couldn’t be a writer and do that. Well, not one that anyone would take any interest in anyway.

An author platform and social media presence is crucial, and promotion of your work will often come through these channels. This is not easy to embrace, especially as many writers (like myself) are introverts, perhaps shy about participating in the necessary self-promotion and marketing required to publish today.

So, to come back to the initial question, why write? When I look at the question logically, I can’t find an answer. But, I know that writing is important to me. Through writing I can communicate—or attempt to convey—how I see the world, the people who live in it and what I think is important to take note of. I can attempt to tell the stories I want to read/hear, which I think people should pay attention to. Will these stories ever be read or published? Maybe. Maybe not. But I still have to take the chance in telling them, because if they aren’t written down and created in the first place they will never exist.

Of course, now that my first novel, The Forest King’s Daughter, has been published, this may increase my chances for having my second novel published. But even if it had never been published, I would continue to write, for myself, because the act of discovering and telling stories is part of who I am.

What about you, do you write for yourself, or primarily with the aim of publication? What is your experience of the publishing world today? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.

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7 thoughts on “Why write?

  1. Great post, Kendra! I especially like your point about how writers today have to work harder than ever to be noticed because there are so many of us. I can only think that this would make books better, more diverse, and more thought-provoking!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What drives me to write? If I am honest, I don’t know. As you rightly identified before, its not about the money because for most of us it doesn’t bring in enough to live off. And in many ways I would have a much easier life if I didn’t write. Fot a start, I wouldn’t feel guilty when I’m not doing it and I would have so much more time to enjoy other stuff ;o) However, I think I would feel even worse if I didn’t do it. Something compels me to write stuff in the form of a story, and I usually don’t even know what that stuff is until I’m finished. But the more I write, the more I enjoy it, and the more I realise there’s so much more to learn and the better I want to be, and the less I worry about being a “bestselling author”. Having sales is nice but its not a measure of being a successful writer, more a measure of successful, costly marketing and a good bit of luck. That said, I do write with a reader in mind, I absolutely want another person to “get” my story, and the more the merrier but, you know what, as long as one person does, its okay ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marianne, I agree with you completely. For me it’s the same, the more I write, the more I enjoy it :-). And it is about connecting with others, and wanting people to ‘get’ your story, even if it is just one person. If just that one person gets it, then the story has been a success. Thanks again for your comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Kendra..

    Great blog post.. I loved reading your novel it was a great one, never stop writing….. 🙂
    I think ‘why write?’ isn’t a hard question for me… I write because I love it and if not one person ever read my stories I would still write, still want to join my characters on their adventure. For me when I’m in my writing fog I’m writing because I have to find out where the story goes…. Have to feel their emotion and learn everything they learn along the way..

    If that one day leads to other reading my books or blog that’s a lovely blessing, but if it never happened would that stop me from enjoying being stuck in that writing fog? Or Following the path that feels so magic in the moments of writing? Not a chance. I would miss it too much.

    Have a lovely Friday..
    Katie..

    Liked by 2 people

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