Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why do I do this to myself?

One of the questions authors are often asked is why we write. I usually get a blank look on my face, because it's not something I can easily put into words, but here goes:

I guess I’ve always written. Sort of.  I’ve never felt particularly driven to write, or at least if I was, I never identified the feeling.  In junior high I wrote what would later come to be called fan-fic, following the lives of my favorite YA characters into adulthood, but I never showed them to anyone.  In my college years and for a long time thereafter, I sublimated the urge with role-playing games. My characters always had the most elaborate backgrounds.  It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I decided to really give writing a shot. There have been times since then that I’ve almost pitched thee whole thing in—sometimes seriously, sometimes just because I’m feeling rotten, but so far, at least, I’ve always convinced myself to keep going.

But why?  It’s a truly miserable business in a lot of ways. I’m not a thick-skinned individual, so bad reviews and rejections hit me hard. Very recently it was disappointing sales that had me questioning my worth as an author. If nobody is buying my books, then what’s the point of driving myself insane trying to write them?  Well there are several answers to that, the most obvious of which, is, “Lady, you were already insane, so it wasn’t much of a drive.”  True. Very true.  The next is that even if sales aren’t where I, (and my publisher) would like them, at least they aren’t at zero. That means somebody did buy it—or them, actually. So more people read my books than would have if I’d kept them locked up in my head.

There are days when it would be easier to stick red-hot spikes into your eyeballs than to get the words to flow.  Other days they tumble out faster than your fingers can keep up. And if I’m sick or really stressed or depressed, it’s very difficult to write at all.  Those, I tell myself, are good days for promotion. When I get really down about writing, my husband, who is marvelous, reminds me that many, many people walk through their lives saying that some day they will write a book. That’s an accomplishment people dream about, plan for, and many, ultimately, never accomplish.  I’ve done it, he reminds me. Even that first awful manuscript that no one but the dust bunnies will ever see, is, in fact, a completed book.  That’s a huge accomplishment all by itself.  And not only did I write a book, and finish it, I wrote more. And those books, I actually sold. Some total stranger has plunked down hard-earned cash to read the demented ramblings of my strangely-wired brain.  If you look at it that way, instead of in terms of numbers, it’s actually pretty damn cool.

Also there’s the fact that I often don’t bother getting dressed until lunchtime. That doesn’t suck either.

Don't forget that my newest steampunk romance Moonlight and Mechanicals releases from Carina Press next Monday, Oct. 22. You can pre-order it now at Amazon or the Carina website.

There are some great contests going on that you should really check out: Sam Cheever's annual Trick or Treat contest runs until Oct. 31. The grand prize is a huge basket, including an engraved i-Pad.
Still going are two more great contests at Romance Books '4' Us and Here Be Magic.

I've also got a ton of appearances going on this month and you can find out more on my personal blog. Have a great week!


anny cook said...

I think even those who "quit" cannot totally walk away. They may never submit another book, but I suspect they write for themselves... I know I would end up doing that. And then want to share it with someone else. :-)

christina said...

Great post. I think we all give up in some way at some point. I know I stopped writing a lot for about 5 years thanks to family issues and having children, but my characters we still always in my mind.

Victoria Adams said...

Incredible post - it sounds like me - don't know why I write - I just do and as to thick skin - I'm paper thin skinned.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I've questioned my "choice" of profession too, Cindy. Only it's not a choice for many of us. I hear it said in one way or other all the time..."I can't not write."

It would be easier to do all kinds of things, but as you said, we're wired differently. I never felt like I 'fit' in the nursing profession--or any other. I belong among other writers. We understand each other.

I don't have a thick skin either, but there are plenty of us who understand how it feels. We can and should support each other at those times. It'll get us through to those other times like getting a fan letter or winning a contest...that's when the job can't be beat.

Katalina said...

I set my clothes near the bed and get dressed like a fireman first thing in the morning or else getting dressed might not happen!
I think you're fabulous Cindy and that the best is yet to come.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

One of my favorite things about being a writer is knowing so many like-minded people. Hugs!

VenusBookluvr said...

Fantastic post. You really do a great job of summing it up!

Wynter Daniels said...

I can relate. Sometimes it's hard to keep plugging away when it feels like it's all for naught. But I've found when I was close to giving it all up, I'd get a fan letter that pumped me back up. It's not easy but you never know when something will hit big. Keep plugging away!You're a very talented writer.

Casey Crow said...

Great post!