Doing it for the love of it?

DebE —  May 18, 2013 — 15 Comments


Salmonella Dub – For the Love Of It (not the version I was thinking of, but it will do)

Why do you write?

When I published my post the other say, somewhat jokingly bemoaning my as yet undiscoveredness, I did get a couple of reminders that we should be writing because we love it, not in order to get famous or (heaven forbid) rich.

Well, I just want to take a moment to be honest…

I love writing. I mean, I love it. When I write (particularly handwriting), what I write sticks in my head better than reading, hearing, saying, or any other way of learning. I am, I guess, a rote-learner, in that respect. I write myself notes not so much so that I have a note to remind me of things, but so that I will just remember because I went through the action of writing it down.

Since rediscovering creative writing, I have learned another aspect of my love: that of telling a story. I admit to struggling with it at the moment, but I have known the pleasure and pain of having a story living inside you that you must. get. out. HEALER’S TOUCH was like that. Even though the story morphed greatly over time. You see, I made a decision that it would be a story worth sharing. So even though I had a certain tale to tell, I wasn’t scared of making sure it did have a proper beginning, middle and end… And I learned about inciting incidents and such… because I wanted the story not just to be my story. I wanted it to be the best story it could be.

When I originally started writing, it was purely for my own benefit, for my own purposes, for my own eyes and mind. But for some reason, I decided to test the waters by posting it online… and I found readers. The seeds of publication were sown.

Now, this is where I get to my point.

I found myself living writing. If I got to work early, I would take a few minutes to write. Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea… if I could get a moment alone, I wrote. Making dinner? Well, those pots can simmer without my input. I stood by the stove, notebook on bench, pen in hand… and I wrote.

That was fine. I was still working. I was still making my husband’s lunches and dinners, keeping the house tidy enough (by my standards…), and even partying.

Then the baby came along.

That was OK, too. In the early days, he did little but feed and sleep. They tell us new mums to “sleep when s/he sleeps”… I did… sometimes… But a lot of the times I wrote.

Then he started to get older and I bemoaned the loss of writing times as he started to drop sleeps. And he started to need more of my input, which is great – I love my son, I love making him giggle and seeing him learn. But I love writing, too.

But if I dared moan, people (friends and family) looked at me strangely and even went so far as to suggest I should give up writing.

Yes.

Give. Up. Writing.

Now, those of you who write know that this is not an option.

One does not simply Give. Up. Writing.

It’s in our blood.

We give up writing and we die inside.

That’s how it is for me.

And so, I sought to be published. Luckily, it went pretty smoothly for me. And I’m really glad I went with a small publisher (Kristell Ink), because my book is already out there. I didn’t have to wait the 2 or so years it would have taken a traditional outlet.

And do you know what happened?

I had my official, local book launch about a month after my book released. This gave people time to read it first.

On the night, one of my friends handed me a bottle of wine and said sorry for not taking me seriously until she’d read and loved my book.

It took my mother another month or so to read it.

Suddenly, no one grumbles about the time I spend writing anymore. I have gained a certain freedom to write. Writing has become easier… when I get a moment without the toddler. And guess what… I get more of those, too. A friend takes him for one hour a week because she wants me to finish book 2. My retired father has just today offered to take my son for an additional couple of hours a week.

Now, before people get all huffy at me over that; I do love my son. And I love being with him. But, until people started to respect my writing, I had no support. My husband works long hours. My mum works. My dad keeps himself busy. My sister lives in town but is too unwell to look after my son. My friends mostly work. My in-laws live in the other island. I can’t afford to put my son in childcare unless I am working at the time (he does 15 hours kindy a week, through which I work a very unrewarding job) – and even then, we’re struggling.

The only problem I see with being published is that now must write my next book faster, and not disappoint my readers by letting the quality slip (in fact I plan to make it BETTER). But my writing time per day is more limited than ever. I may only have a few “fans” (you are real people… I just can’t get used to the term in regards to me… don’t be offended by the “”, please), but I plan to deliver for them.

Do you know what that means?

It means I will not apologise for seeking to make a living at what I love. It means I will not apologise for seeking help with my childcare.

I won’t apologise.

I love writing. And for that reason, I seek to keep writing.

What about you?

Unpublished authors: Do you have the support and understanding you need?

Published authors: Did it change things? Make it easier? Harder?

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DebE

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Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction. Mum of one human & four fur-babies.

15 responses to Doing it for the love of it?

  1. 

    Knowing is half the battle, right? The second book, in my unpublished opinion, is always the hardest. It becomes less about passion and more about getting it done. I would imagine it’s tougher for you, the published author. I’d say remember the feelings of HEALER’S TOUCH. Remember running from the shower leaving a trail of water as you scramble to jot down that awesome idea. Those feelings are still there. They’re pushed back by the pressure to deliver a better book, and on time book. If you can somehow not think about the pressure and allow yourself to create, you’d rekindle those emotions. The words will flow. They’ll be good words too. You can do it. HEALER’S TOUCH is proof of that. Those who love you will support you no matter what. That’s been my experience. Whatever you do, have fun. Create. Write.

    • 

      Thanks, Brian. I like to think I still have the passion for the current book. It *is* better already, and my writing continues to improve. My main problem is that I have so few moments to hear my own thoughts and even few to hear my characters like I used to. Perhaps I should take up meditation?

  2. 

    I really understand where you’re coming from, and living in NZ, I also get the general sense of isolation that one can feel as an artist trying to get connected to the bigger world. I am unpublished and just coming out of that phase you mention where you have written the book, and suddenly you start to take it seriously. It’s not just a hobby anymore, not just something I’m doing for myself and the book starts to demand more, because it, (like a growing child) starts to feel like it wants a voice of its own. So you put more time and more effort in to making it better and better, but now the stakes start to rise. What if it doesn’t succeed? You’re giving up all this time that I could be spending on other things like your human child, or your day job or whatever other people seem to think you should be doing with your time. At the end of the day, you have to write, it is a bodily function just like any other, and the fact is you and everyone else benefits from your writing, because it makes you a better person to be around once the creative energy demons have been purged.

    • 

      It is tricky being from little ol’ NZ, trying to call attention this way. Hard enough getting our books into our own bookstores!
      Yes, you get it. We shouldn’t have to justify our art, but us writers can’t just bust out a painting and say “Check this out”. It’s years of work & then no one can be bothered looking at it until someone else has said “It’s worth it”.
      It *is* a bodily function. So true.
      And it may not “succeed”. We’re mad fordoing it. But we gotta do it!

  3. 

    Inspirational. I once read in Writer’s Digest a feature story about a mother of young children/newly published author who, upon hearing the gripes of less encumbered writers who stated that they didn’t have the time they needed to write their novel, replied, “No one has time to write a novel… but some people do anyway.”

  4. 

    Thanks for the pingback on this! If anything because it led to me to your blog- I love this post and I completely relate to how you feel, I don’t think my family will believe in or support my writing until that hopeful day I get published- until then they don’t see it as a worthy aspiration! But I think it is and it’s not worth giving it up for the sake of other people, congratulations on getting yourself out there and published! 😀

    • 

      Wow, well, thank *you* for stopping by! I linked because I think we all battle that blank page at times. It comes and goes…
      It is a difficult dream to stick to, this writing gig. It’s fine if you’ve won lotto and can live on the interest. It’s fine if you’ve got some sort of inheritance keeping you afloat. But I bet most writers are not in that position. Most of us *should* be working a real job or, at least, *should* be working a better paying one, but perhaps we opt for one that lets us daydream while we work… There is no shame in dreaming of making money at this gig. We have to be realistic and realise there’s more to it than putting a story to paper… If you really want to make money, you have to put MANY stories to paper! And preferably good ones… and hopefully those good ones find an audience. It is no get-rich-quick scheme, that’s for sure — unless you get lucky. But even then, there will have been years of hard work and sacrifice leading up that that luck.
      If you can write while keeping your day job, that’s a very good idea – and believe me, it’s easier to write while working a day-job than while raising a toddler! (the baby wasn’t too bad, and when he gets subsidised kindy from 3 it won’t be too bad… but this year is tough!).
      But if you want to make a career at writing, you have to 1) put yourself out there to get published and 2) be prepared to market, market, market. If you want to sell, you have to find ways to get the book in front of readers (without pissing people off in the process). But most importantly, you must write the next book!

      • 

        Thanks for the advice! Yes, funnily enough I’m not in that position of money abundance… maybe one day! I’ve been trying to write something I’m happy with for years, so that’s my first battle is finding something I think worthy of trying to get published! But I am studying a creative writing course which supports you in submitting pieces for publication, so hopefully one day I’ll get lucky and just write that first piece that gets me out there! And ha, I do have the benefit of the day job, and not having a toddler as yet haha! So I do have the time to keep at it, and to try and put myself out there 🙂 Thanks!

        • 

          That course sounds cool. It can be just as tough to get short pieces published, but at least you don’t commit years to a short story (I hope!), so you can try a few things on your way to finding your novel story.

  5. 

    Wow Deb, how great that you have so much support! I agree making time for writing and making time for all the other parts of life (especially when you’re a mom!) it’s often the biggest challenge. But you have to take snatches of time where you can. Keep at it!

    • 

      Hey, thanks for stopping by.
      Yes, I am grateful for the support I have now. And I suppose it’s the same in every profession: we must prove ourselves before others will believe in us. Writing is a tough, long-winded game to prove ourselves at, though!
      If you want to write at a professional level, I think you do need to MAKE time – beg and plead for it, if you have to. Simple fact is, people get grumpy waiting 5-10 years between books (if a series). You’d basically have to start again as far as building a platform goes. So, we do what we can. We call in all favours, and buy time with muffins…

  6. 

    I didn’t start to write seriously untll I had three babies at home. Since I couldn’t do anything else, I thought, what the hell! I haven’t stopped since. It’s true you can’t do everything, standards of what is acceptable in terms of hime beautiful slip, but who cares? I have a husband who just wants me to be happy, and if that means never earning a penny, then so be it. No, we aren’t rich, we barely make ends meet, but we’re happy. Good luck with the next book!

    • 

      HI Jane. You certainly have to make compromises to have a go at this writing gig. Working AND raising kids AND writing isn’t impossible, but, phew!, it’d be tiring, and I’m guessing that’s when novels take 10 years… I’m trying to write my 2nd novel in less than a year; that’s where the difficulty lies. I’ve put a loose deadline on myself at a time when writing time is very slim! Silly, perhaps, but I’m determined to get close, at least.
      Having children is a great time to do some research and writing, that’s for sure. But, yes, you do have to go easy on yourself as far as housework goes… we can’t do it all.

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