In this season of summer movie sequels, it seems like a good time to follow up on the post I wrote last year in which I mused about my reasons for writing a novel.
Although I’m still some months away from querying agents, I’m starting to think about that phase of novel birthing. I’ve been doing research on what makes a good query, reading agents’ blogs, trying to become more knowledgeable about the book industry. No one’s ever hid from me the fact that selling a novel and making a living (or even a fraction of a living) as an author are both really tough to do. I’ve known that from the beginning. It just seemed best not to worry about that fact incessantly while I was working on my book.
But the more I learn now, the more the reality hits home. Here’s the common wisdom: Publishing is a rough road. So write because you love it.
The thing is, I don’t think loving writing is enough to sustain me on this journey. If I were writing just for the love of writing, I’d put my pages in a box or on a thumb drive and be perfectly content. I think the point I’m trying to make in a circuitous way is that for many of us “aspiring,” “emerging,” or what-have-you writers, love of writing is fundamental. (That’s not true for everyone, but probably for a good chunk of writers.) The fantasies that we could make a living doing what we love every day and that we could have an audience for our work are secondary.
But sometimes, it’s true, those secondary things trump the fundamental in our minds. If only someone would notice me and give me a nice chunk of money, I could quit my day job and write.
In order to banish that fantasy and get down to the brass tacks of writing, actually doing what we love, I think we need something more. A sense that we want to be challenged. A sense that we want to set a goal and accomplish it. A driving passion for a particular story. A need to be heard. A little bit of craziness.
In that way, committing to write a novel is sort of like getting married. Love sets the foundation, but it takes a lot more — including the crazy conviction that you can beat the odds — to make a strong marriage.
What do y’all think?