Hi SE Readers. Joan here today. Several years ago, when my friend and I first started a writer’s group in our hometown, she approached a local author who had been traditionally published and asked if she would be willing to speak to our group.
Most of us were new to the game and none of us had been published. We were eager to learn all we could about the writing and publishing world. The author’s reply?
“I really don’t have anything to say, and I don’t speak to writer’s groups.”
As you can imagine, we were taken aback. I vowed then that if I ever became a published author, I would do what I could to encourage new writers. For that reason, I try to have encouraging posts here on Story Empire. Warning: today’s post may seem a bit discouraging but bear with me.
There is probably not a writer among us that wouldn’t like to be the next J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, or John Gresham. Who wouldn’t want to be on the NYT best seller list time and again, be able to quit their day job, and make a living doing what we love?
But the sad truth is most of us will never achieve that status. Some may be able to supplement their income with writing. Others may write a best seller, sort of like what they call one-hit wonders in the music industry. (A one-time best seller may not be a bad thing. Remember up until her death, Harper Lee had only one published book. But what a book it was!)
Success stories in the publishing world are few and far between. We are fortunate to live in a time when the opportunity to become a writer is better than ever thanks to self-publishing. But with that opportunity comes the fact that the market is flooded. Tens of thousands of writers are competing for an audience.
So what is a writer to do? Give up, throw in the towel, or keep writing?
This is been a tough year for me. Changes at my job, along with a few health issues, have interfered with my writing. The novel I began writing in January (and hoped to publish in October) still isn’t finished. When I got to what I refer to the “messy middle” I almost wanted to give up.
But I can’t. Instead of struggling, I put aside the novel for a couple of days and wrote a short story, the idea of which I toyed with for months. It’s a mindless piece of fluff that I will never publish. I will never make a single penny off it, but I had to get the story out of my head and into the computer.
Clearing the idea from my brain helped the creative process. I was able to go back to the novel with a fresh perspective. I plowed through the middle and the end is now in sight.
You see, I have to write. There is something within me that keeps pushing me forward. As someone once said, “I write because I cannot not write.”
Recently, the a few of the Story Empire authors and I talked about writing for money. We agreed while it would be nice to make a living with our words. But money or not, we’ll keep on writing. That inner voice and the desire to write is stronger than the desire to become wealthy. Writing is something we do. It’s something we must do.
So if you’re down and discouraged, take time to think about why you got into this business in the first place. Was it to make money? Or was it for the love of writing?