Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why We Write

All parts of being an author, published and unpublished, are
hard.  The writer is the minnow in a sea of barracuda in all
aspects of the financial business of publishing.  Almost everyone
wants to either ignore you, belittle you, or take what little you
have.  Few writers get to the point where they have much power
over their own books or careers.  

From your fellow writers and publishing professionals, you face sneers
and contempt.  If you are e-published, if you write for Leisure
rather than Pocket, or paperback rather than hardcover, if you write
romance or mystery or science fiction or cross-genre or any sort of
fiction, you are looked down upon by someone, and that person has no
trouble telling you so.  

From the real world of family, friends, readers, and strangers, people
will sneer at you for all the above reasons as well as a few more. Most
people think Michael Jordan worked hard for his craft and has a natural
born skill, but writers just put words on paper and anyone can do
it.  Athletes make obscene amounts of money, but the average
professional writer makes less money than anyone in the publishing
chain including the janitor who cleans the publishing house's restrooms
and the minimal wage worker who stacks the books at the local library.

Over half the people who learn you are a writer tell you that they are
going to write a book someday, and they think it will be published
instantly.  People believe that most celebrities actually write
their own books, and therefore, if that idiot can write a book, anyone

Ah, yes, the life of the average professional writer is a wonderful
life, right up there with dropping a cinderblock on your foot over and
over again.  

Why do we do it?  While the cinderblock is hitting our foot, we
are dreaming of our brighter future or our characters so the pain
doesn't hurt so bad most of the time. 

And, occasionally, someone will tell us how much they loved our book,
or how that book got them through some terrible hours during a personal
crisis such as a dying loved one, or how our books made them understand
something about themselves or someone else and how that changed their
life for the better.

At times like that, we don't mind being minnows.