This world is a writer’s story. Big or small, light or dark, it is a step into your mind, a reflection of who you are and what you find important. You feel the customary glee upon finishing it, and the eagerness to share it. For what purpose does art serve, if it isn’t shared?
Then you decide to let someone else read it. Maybe you present it to a workshop of fellow writers. Perhaps you even gather the courage and send it to a market for publication.
Here is where reality enters the equation. These people didn’t create this world you’re showing them, so they have nothing invested in it. If you lack certain skills, maybe they got confused about what world you were talking about in the first place. If they did like your world, that doesn’t mean they’re willing to pay you money for it. Some among you will rant and rave, not understanding why all these ignorant fools lacked the intelligence or taste to appreciate your world.
For the rest of us, we sit back down and write another world. Conjure all the same things: people, places, things. Kick-ass, cool things we want to share with others. Even though this world may be criticized, rejected, and scoffed at the same as the last one, we still create it.
Now imagine having this pressure every time you compose a new story. That’s one way of looking at the life of a writer. Oh, I won’t get into the usual tidbits: no time to write due to family or job, writer’s block, rejection letters up to your neck. For me, what it means to be a writer is the willingness to give your all to a story, and the willingness to see it fail at every attempt to get it published, advertised, etc.
I myself have been writing long enough that this pressure is non-existent. Sure, too many rejections in a row brings me down. Revising that novel for the fifth time isn’t as exciting as, say, writing a brand new one. Having to explain what I do to people who thinks a writer is someone who bathes in hundred-dollar bills every day isn’t fun.
Then why do this, you ask?
Because writers have to.
It really is as simple as that. Yes, every writer wants to be the Next Big Thing, the one whose book tops the best-seller lists. We all want Hollywood to call, drowning us in dollars for the film rights. Ah, book signings, television interviews, an agent vacuuming our carpet and begging for the next hot manuscript…
But what we really want is for people to enter our world and enjoy their stay. I bet even the big shot writers want that, regardless of how many million copies get sold. Now, before you roll your eyes and think this is just another ‘it’s about the art, not the money’ feel-good, After School Special blog, remember this: all of those wealthy, successful writers were just like the rest of us at one time. Many of them deserve their accolades and fortunes. Quite a few don’t, but that isn’t their fault—blame editors and the buying public.
Every writer, regardless of genre, experience, or success, possesses the drive to transmute their imagination into words. Some may dread writing, or hate facing that blank page, or fear rejection like a pimpled teenager at the prom. How we feel afterwards—elated that we completed the novel, satisfied the story expressed what we wanted it to, or just disgusted that we
wrote such tripe—doesn’t matter. Why?
Because a writer will create another one. Another world, another attempt to wrench something from within ourselves and describe in terms we hope everyone else can understand. It is communication, and it is also a cleansing. Writers have to be willing to hand over what they regard as their best, and see
it slashed apart by opinion, or even ignored.
Then we create a new world again. We have to. It isn’t hope, or an addiction, that fosters this determination.
It is the need.