Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Do I Have To?
I'm not going to post about that now, though. It'd get rather boring and boils down to this: blogging is something you do because you like it, or because you think you have to. I happen to like it most of the time. Blogging is also something that is either the product itself--in other words, people aren't going to buy your books because of your blog, but they will read your blog because it's got great content--or your blog is for your own personal outlet. Mine is the latter. As you can see today. I'm just posting this to express my opinion, and most of my followers probably don't even read my blog anymore to be honest.
The other thing that was discussed a lot while I was sick was whether or not you should write for publication. Not that it should never be a goal, but whether or not you actually putting words on paper or not should depend on reaching that goal.
Some believe that you write because you love it, period. If you get published, great, but that shouldn't be what motivates you to actually write. Others find the two go hand-in-hand, that if writing is not getting you published, or being published is not resulting in sales (or sufficient sales), then it's not worth the work.
I believe that most writers write for the love of it. But it can become very discouraging to write and write and write and either not get published for years and years or to get published and not sell well. Does this mean you ought to give up, though?
It's perfectly acceptable in any other field to expect to get paid for doing what you love. If you love teaching, become a teacher. But if you can't find a job teaching no one is going to say, "If you really love it and are called to teach, you'll do it for FREE!"
Maybe you'll get a job working at an office and then teach Sunday School once a week, or do some tutoring as a favor for a friend, or decide to offer a free class at the library now and then, but you're not going to teach full-time for free. When someone is hoping for writing as a career, they make it a priority, but if they're not succeeding in meeting that goal, then what's wrong with ratcheting back to hobby level? Or even saying it's just not worth the stress and simply refocusing on other aspects of your life?
There is also something that occurred to me just a couple of days ago. You see, while I was sick, I spent a lot of time lying in bed, watching HGTV. It's been years since I've really watched that channel, partly because I know I get addicted to it and then start wanting to redecorate and fix stuff up, and those things take time and money.
Well, watching all those shows kicked in that addiction again, and I've decided to take a break from writing for a little while to focus on deep-cleaning my house and finishing up some unfinished (or un-started) projects that have been bugging me.
In doing this, I realized that writing is just one of my many creative outlets. That if I stop writing, I just shift to being creative in other ways. In the past, before I ever started writing, I drew a lot, I painted figurines, and I scrapbooked. And of course the house-decorating stuff. For a while I even got on a sewing kick, although pretty much everything was rectangular--curtains, pillow cases, and even slings for carrying my kids when they were babies.
The point is, with those other things I got to be creative AND end up with something personally useful and/or something we needed that would have cost significantly more had I not done the work myself. Writing is the ONLY creative outlet I've ever focused on where the goal was to create something for someone else.
Yes, I said that. The writing part, the creative outlet part, is for me. Of course. But the product--the short story, the novel, whatever--is for the reader. If there are no readers, the story is just sort of dangling there in space, unused.
I guess I'm simply too practical. I can "write" a story in my head. I can imagine the characters and the plot and the story world and never put the words to paper, and I'm still being creative. I'm still creating a story, it's just not being physically recorded such that a reader can access it--and if readers aren't going to access it if I put the work into writing the story down, then, truly, why bother? I mean, I'm getting the part that's for me, right? And I can be plotting and characterizing while building cornices for my kitchen windows and redecorating the Beasties' rooms and cleaning out my closets, which are things that will benefit my family.
No, I'm not saying I'm giving up writing. I'm just saying that not writing doesn't take away my creativity. And the creativity part is what I do for me, for the pure love of it. The putting it on paper to sell it to someone else--that's for publication and for profit, and if it's not gleaning those things, should I have to do it?