Monday, February 21, 2011

The Need for Reinforcement

I've found it odd this week that I seem to be pondering a lot of the same things my fellow authors are pondering. I've written two blogs so far that have matched up somewhat with posts by Becky Minor and Ren Black. (You can find my similar posts here and here, respectively.)

Today, I visited Caprice Hokstad's blog and found her discussing her motivation for writing, which is--you guessed it--something I've been recently working around in my head to post about.

Caprice touches on the idea that without publication and readership as reinforcement we can become discouraged in our writing. I agree with this wholeheartedly. You see, I do write because I love to. Of course. Anyone writing without loving it is just torturing themselves. But I also want to be published, and YES, I admit it...I want to be paid for it.

As writers we're told that we should not feel this way. We are called to write, and write we will, no matter the lack of fame and fortune! Banish those dreams of becoming the next J.K. Rowling! Do it for the love and consider yourself lucky if you are paid for even a fraction of what you write!


I started writing because I love being lost in a story world and wanted to create a world other readers would love to be lost in. I started writing because I wanted OTHER PEOPLE to read my writing. In many ways, I feel as though there is no point in me writing if no one but me is going to read it. And for others to read it, my writing has to get published.

Now comes the money part.

Boo....hiss....bad writer....evil writer....shame on you!

Really? Is it so awful to want to get paid for what I do? I work hard at writing. I turn raw ideas into complete stories. I give you something (hopefully entertaining and thought-provoking) to read--and as a reader I know how valuable that is.

Let me say first that I am VERY grateful to the non-paying magazines that have published me. They give me readership, which is a huge reinforcement. But I'm gonna be honest--I'd like to find some serious paying markets for my short stories. That has happened with a few of my nonfiction pieces, but not my fiction. OK, yes, I did get $50 for winning Editor's Choice with "Willing Blood." But everything else has earned me either nothing or a token payment.

This is, in fact, more than a lot of writers can claim. So many spend years publishing nothing, paid or otherwise. And it is frustrating. It can make us want to give up.

Finding Angel is a complete novel. The sequel, Seeking Unseen, sits on my hard drive half written. The beginning of another (unrelated) novel sits on my hard drive one-fourth written. I've made very little progress on them, mainly because I'm not seeing that light at the end of the tunnel right now. Maybe Finding Angel will land a publisher, but will it sell? Will I have readers and royalties that show me people are truly enjoying my created world?

No, I'm not planning on giving up. But I can say it's been hard lately to get motivated. I have the rest of those two novels I mentioned plotted out in my head, but I haven't worked on putting it on paper because I can't get into the zone to do so. Writing draws me away from my family, and it's got to reap something--readership and royalties, preferably--to be worth the time and effort.

There, I've said the forbidden. But seriously, the worlds of my writing are all right there in my head, and that's a pretty short trip for ME to make if no one's tagging along.


Caprice Hokstad said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to see fruit for your labor. At what point did it become so taboo for writers but perfectly acceptable for other artists (e.g. singers)? Come on, we pay people to PLAY GAMES in our society. Professional sports are big money. That isn't to say that everyone needs the same "carrot" as a pro quarterback, but no one ever suggests those pros just play "for the love of the game".

I can't believe you even FOUND my blog before I went begging for readers on FB! LOL Thanks for the link.

Kat Heckenbach said...

So true, Caprice. We expect movie-makers and musicians to make good money, but writers (other than the big, big names) are supposed to write for the love of it. And we do far too often.

And I've been following your blog for a while. Glad to see you posting again! :)

Robynn Tolbert said...

Getting paid is no crime. Dave Ramsey would say if you aren't breaking even, it's a hobby.
Of course, he would also say marketing your product is key to building a customer base. For the writer, it seems to me the non-paid stuff is the stepping stone to the paid stuff.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Dave Ramsey rocks :).

And, yes, the non-paid stuff is the stepping stone. I'm not griping about the wonderful opportunities those non-paying markets have given me. The editors at those magazines work HARD, and THEY don't get paid either! The shame is they can't make money in order to have money to pay the writers, because it's almost become expected that any "short" fiction must be "free."

Anonymous said...

Every time I hear the line "It's just Information, and INFORMATION YEARNS TO BE FREEEEEEEEEE!" I want to punch them in the junk, HARD.

I've heard the story from/about artists so many times -- "Why Doncha just upload your stuff to the Web so I can download it for FREEEEEE?"

Ken Pick

Kat Heckenbach said...

It's those two areas--writing and art--that just get the brunt. Like they're glorified hobbies. YET, everyone WANTS art and books and "information." We pay for needs, so why would we not pay for wants?

And there's the whole catch-22 about writers needing publishing credits, but non-paying ones don't seem to "count"--yet the readers turn to the free zines, making it harder and harder to even FIND paying ones, much less get into them.