Therese here. Today’s guest was a quarter-finalist in our search for an unpublished contributor for Writer Unboxed. Samantha Clark runs a nice blog of her own, called Day by Day Writer, where she blogs about the writing life, among other things. She writes middle-grade fiction and has a background in journalism and editing. And–a seriously cool tidbit–she wrote two children’s travel books for charity. (Check them out HERE.) In Samantha’s WU application, she wrote:
When you’re passionate about something, it invades every aspect of your life. When I’m brushing my teeth, I’m reading a book on the counter; when I’m cooking and walking our dog, I’m listening to audio books; when I’m driving, I’m thinking about my characters; and when I’m trying to sleep, my characters are talking to me.
Where does that passion come from? What feeds it? Samantha’s here to tell us.
Writing is its own reward
Getting published is the goal for most if not all of us who start writing a book. We see the colorful book covers on the shelves at our local Borders and imagine our name on one.
But getting published is just one part of an amazing journey, a journey that some don’t start for fear of not getting published.
A friend emailed me recently saying, “I’ve written something. It’s probably crap, but do you want to see it?” My friend, a very talented writer, had an idea for a story and wrote the first four pages before cold feet set in. He had such fun writing those pages, but then he started to worry that they were no good, that no one would want to read them and they wouldn’t be good enough to be published.
I told him that, while I have the utmost confidence in his writing, getting published didn’t matter, at least, not now.
Getting published and writing a novel are two separate parts of the same coin, but before you can get published, you have to write. Sure, writing a novel isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work, and there’s no guarantee of seeing your work published when you’re done. But, writing gives us the opportunity for incredible rewards. Author Anne Lamott talks about this in her book Bird By Bird, how her students often ask her about getting published, and she tells them it won’t change their lives, but writing could.
Here are some rewards from writing:
Joy: When I see my characters coming together on the page.
Excitement: When my characters do things I never thought they’d do.
Passion: When I can’t sleep at night because my mind is going over the decision my character is making.
Inspiration: When I feel overwhelmed by other things in my life, sitting down and writing a page can make my feel like I can achieve anything.
Satisfaction: When other aspects of my life are frustrating, such as my job, writing gives me the satisfaction I crave.
When I started writing my first novel, I doubted myself all the time. I wondered if any of it was any good. And the thought that I didn’t have to do this, that I could just give up and no one would care, crossed my mind regularly.
But, I quickly realized I do have to do it. Not for some goal I had set, or desire to finish what I started. I have to write because I love it. The time I spend with my characters makes everything else in my life better.
I’ll never forget the morning I typed THE END on my first draft. My heart skipped a beat, my breath got shallow. I could feel the excitement in my stomach. I had finished my first novel.
At that moment, I didn’t care if it ever got published. I didn’t care if anyone else liked it (I knew it would need a lot of work before they would). I didn’t care if anyone else even read it. In that moment, I just reveled in the idea that I had told this story and gone through this journey with these characters.
And I couldn’t wait to do it again.
Writing a novel isn’t easy, but the rewards far outweigh the hardships. Just start, then take it one page at a time. Publishing will come later.
Thanks for a great post, Samantha.
Readers, what keeps you going? What feeds the writing process for you?
Photo courtesy Flickr’s FreeWine