Some people write for themselves. Their journals or dark poetry or rants help clear their heads and remind themselves where they’ve been.
Some people write because it’s a job. They’re technical writers or copy writers, and they churn out words in response to demand to advertise or explain the topic of the day.
Some people write because Mrs. Cowan in 10th grade lit made them do it. Ugh. Another essay on Great Expectorations. (And yes, we used to call it that. Along with the other fine American classic, Ethane Chrome. Ha. Science majors are so funny. )
Me? I write because I have to. Some small voice starts nagging at me as the wisp of a plot coalesces in a shadowy form, growing as characters emerge half-constructed from the miasma. They, in turn, draw lines of tension, which stir the cauldron of story line, that then marches inexorably on to spark the final climax and denouement.
Like now. I’ve got the next story leaking out. I’m taking notes on scraps of paper at the office, next to the bed, on coffee filters, just so I don’t forget this urban fantasy, a takeoff on the Cinderella story. But I can’t work on it. Not yet.
Three other writing projects stand in the way: the first, the final edit of my new YA (that’s Young Adult, for the neophytes) novel so I can submit it for possible publication; the second, a review of a book forwarded to me by WolfPirate Publishing, where I’d like to be published one day; and last, commentary on a YA novel currently being penned by my 17-year-old niece in Chicago. And then there’s the continued sucking hole that is the blog, whispering “you have to write againnnnnn…” every couple of days.
That’s the problem. I write for others to read. I need others to devour my words, collaborate with me, share the journey, make comments, enjoy the experience. So it follows that “the writing” is not enough. I must then make the effort to get the writing out into the world for the Others. The blogosphere makes that pretty easy. I have an average of 50 people a day who come by and see what I’m babbling about at any given time. (And I’m grateful. I am.)
But for poetry, short stories and novels, it’s a little harder. No. It’s a lot harder. It’s a huge effort to find an agent or editor to even consider your work. For every 50 letters you send, you might get someone willing to look at some chapters. Even good work gets passed these days because of the vagaries of the market; you need to catch the particular reader at the right place on the right day, or you’ll miss out. But you have to send the letters if you want the chance to get your words into the hands of Joe or Jane Reader. So I’m sending them. A few at first, but maybe 20. Or 50. Or 100. If I really believe in the worth of the manuscript, I should be willing to go to the mat. Maybe Editor 101 is the right one. Maybe not.
Either way, it gives me fodder for reflection here and a goal to work toward. After all, that spare eight minutes a week is calling.