Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Take Two: Writing for Self vs. Writing for Publication

Since we're all still recovering from last week's festivities, I thought I'd share an old post with you. I originally published this post back in October 2009, when I didn't have any many readers (except for Holly--hi, Holly!). At that time, I had just started Bob's first draft and was finishing my previous manuscript's query cycle. Hope you enjoy.

A month or two ago, I remember saying something very much like, “Ugh! I just want to be writing again! I’m so sick of all this querying!” This was back when I was still outlining Bob (new work-in-progress)--and still trying to adapt to a new schedule with a new baby in the house. I hadn’t written even a sentence of a novel for months, and the withdrawals were starting to eat me alive.

My husband laughed at this and said, “Wasn’t it just a few months ago that you were complaining about the writing? I believe you said something very much like, ‘Ugh! I just want to be querying again! I just want to have another manuscript ready to send out to agents!’”

He was right, of course. I did say something very much like that while I was editing my last book. That’s because I was starting to feel that same feeling I’d get whenever my parents would make me stop to eat food in Disneyland. There I’d be, stuffing my ten-dollar slice of pizza into my face as fast as I could stuff, scowling at all of the other kids skipping past, and knowing, just knowing, that their favorite ride was Big Thunder Mountain, too. That they were on their way there, and that they were going to get in line in head of me. As if Big Thunder Mountain were going to up and disappear sometime in between when they arrived and when I finally choked down that last fifty-cent pepperoni.

It’s irrational, I know, but sometimes we humans are just irrational beings (case in point: whoever decided mullets were attractive). And the truth is, while my life’s ambition has been to publish a book for as long as I’ve known what the word ambition meant (which is why I put up with all that querying), it’s not the reason I write. I write because I have to; because some days it’s the only thing that stands between me, my two kids, and the nut house; because it gives me a socially acceptable reason to talk to the voices in my head. I write because whenever I see something funny or beautiful or tragic, I imagine how I would describe it if I were writing about it in a book. I’m sure you understand.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I write for myself. As magnificent a dream as publication is--and it is magnificent and, for now, just a dream--it is not what keeps me going, what forces me to put at least a few words down on paper (or up on the screen) every day. I probably would have given up a long time ago if that were my motivation. And I’m not giving up. Because I can’t.

16 comments:

Carol Riggs said...

Yep, don't give up! it's too much a part of you. Ha, love the Disneyland comparison. ;o)

Krista V. said...

Writing is too much a part of me, Carol. I think it's too much a part of all of us. And I'm glad you liked the Disneyland comparison. I feel that way often, about a lot of different things:)

Kimberly said...

Fantastic post! I also love the Disneyland comparison and have felt just that same way before.

Myrna Foster said...

I so identify the irrational behavior, only I go back and forth between writing (first drafting) and editing (later drafting).

Myrna Foster said...

Hmm, there should be a "with" after "identify."

erica and christy said...

It's the writing that leaves me hopeful and the editing that leaves me hopeless. For awhile. Then I try to rebound! Good luck to you, too!

Maybe it's just the time of year - so busy and full of family, it's hard to get back to work!
erica

Holly said...

Hi, Krista! I had to laugh when I saw my name.

I remember a contest where you entered the first 250 words of your story about the young cabbie in New York -- and I think a dog was in there somewhere, which is what caught my eye. I checked out your website because that piece was so engaging. Your time will come.

Two weeks and counting to Queryland for me. Time to outline the new novel.

Best of luck.

Krista V. said...

Kimberly, glad to know I'm not alone.

Myrna, we knew what you meant;)

Erica, writing and editing are two completely different animals. One - or both:) - of them usually throw me off at least once while I'm birthing a book.

Holly, yay! So excited you're about ready to buy your ticket to Queryland! I need a buddy who'll go on all the rides with me:) Also, I'm glad you liked that excerpt from SEE THE SAMELINGS. I've actually been thinking of completely rewriting/re-genrifying that manuscript. Hmm...

Holly said...

Krista, rewrite that novel if you have the bug. Seriously.

I rewrote the novel I'm about to query 3 times. My mind turned to mush and my eyes almost fell out, but hey, the story came together this past year. We'll see what happens.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great post. I rewrote my first book at least six times before I found a publisher but I had so much to learn it was no wonder it was rejected so much. Keep writing no matter the reason.

Ben Spendlove said...

Yes, I understand.

Krista V. said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Holly. My brain's been all a-flutter lately with possible ideas. (Most of them aren't very good, mind you, but at least they're ideas:) ) It's always tricky to make the switch from revising to outlining and first-drafting.

Welcome, Susan! Thanks for your comment. That's the great thing about writing (and most things, I suppose) - the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Ben, your brevity is inspiring:)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

What a great post. I write for myself as well. I never thought I'd actually send a book out to agents until I wrote my third one. It's been a fun ride, and I'm not ready to throw in the towel this soon. I have so many ideas and love putting them down on paper, so I'm in it for the long haul, even if I never get published.
As for queryland, I'm getting some bites and even if nothing happens, at least people are starting to notice! :)

Krista V. said...

Chantele, yay for getting some bites! I hope they all work out - or at least one of them:)

P.S. I know this is kind of a shot in the dark, but are you channywax over at Absolute Write?

Stephanie@thecrackedslipper said...

I love the Disneyland comparison, too! I wrote a post in a similar vein on my blog a while back...so many friends say to me: "How do you find the time/energy with three little kids?" It's hard for non-writers to undestand...writing=sanity=fun=I'd do it all day everyday if I could.

Birds sing, fish swim, writers write. :)

I'm having so much fun with my WIP I forget about those queries floating around in cyberspace (for a while!) Keep going. Tackle this phase and on to the next. It will happen!

Krista V. said...

Stephanie, I love "Birds sing, fish swim, writers write." I may have to steal that line from you sometime:)