Writers don’t write to become rich; although, a few manage to become rich. Writers don’t write to fill award shelves or displays; although, a few do fill multiple displays. So, why do writers write? What drives them to put in long hours hunched over a hot keyboard?
Writers write for the rewards. What? Oh, you mean I already stated that few get rich or collect multiple awards. But, rewards aren’t always money or trophies or certificates; although, they may be.
All right, all right, I will stop writing in circles. Let me tell you what rewards keep me writing so that judges can tear what I write to pieces and insult me. Those judges that actually read and understand what I write and send me encouragement through good feedback or who stamp “winner” on my writing reward me. Knowing that someone read and liked what I wrote keeps me wanting to write.
Today, I heard one of my short stories won a writing contest for unpublished short stories. The story is one I wrote years ago and filed away. When the contest rules were posted last year, I began searching for a story I could rework, improve, polish, and/or use. I liked the concept, but my writing has improved over the years between when I wrote the piece and now. I took a hard look at the many problem areas I found. Took a deep breath. Began to rework the story.
Two weeks later, I thought, “Now I think it’s worth entering in a competition.”
I entered the story and forgot all about the contest until today when I discovered that story took first place. Someone liked the effort I exerted into creating a story I felt good enough to enter. The reward wasn’t money or any kind of physical item. The reward was a sense of success – knowing that someone “liked” what I wrote.
I entered an unpublished manuscript for a novel in a contest earlier this year, hoping for feedback that would tell me whether my beginning hooked the reader (in this case, judge) or not. Did what I write work? From a large number of entries, mine took 2nd place. The feedback, though, was the reward. The judge gave suggestions that made the work better, but that feedback also let me know that my idea for the hook worked.
Why do I write? I write because I have stories to share, tales to tell, and rewards to collect. No riches, even if that would be nice, no Pulitzer Prize, even if that would be gratifying, but knowing my words made a difference. I write because I can’t stop
Every book I write runs like a movie in my head until it becomes a manuscript ready for review, editing, and revision. Living with a continuous movie causes a great need to get that manuscript written. However, life does not always cooperate, no matter how demanding the movie becomes.
I started my historical suspense, mystery, romance Burnt Offering two years before my husband died. At least, the movie in my head began. To be sure the factual parts of the story agreed with actual facts, I researched life, culture, religious practices, the worship of the idol Moleck, and other necessary items from the 8th Century BC for a year, and the writing done during that time included tons of notes. One interesting side note, Moleck can be spelled multiple ways, but I chose one to use in the book.
As I researched, the movie continued. I would awaken at night with the story rolling through my head. During the last part of my husband's life, his care demanded more and more of my time, and Burnt Offering had to wait. But, it refused to wait in my head. The urgency to write the story built until I had to take time out of the night, when I should sleep, to write another section.
When Robert died the end of March 2015, the book became my obsession, perhaps saved what sanity I still had. I wrote, rewrote, read, edited, revised, wrote more, checked my notes, wrote more. All this time, the movie continued. It might change a bit as I discovered facts that made a difference or a character decided he or she wanted a change (other authors will understand). However, the movie would not let me forget my job -- write that book and hurry.
Finally, April 2, 2019, Burnt Offering became a reality, and the movie ended.
Two months later, I discovered a three-ring Rawleigh notebook that held a manuscript I began writing in the late 1960s, early 1970s: some pages typed on my old manual typewriter, some pages still handwritten. I read the words a younger me wrote over 45 years ago and liked the story. I wanted to enter those words into my computer, finish the story, and discover the final project's worth.
A folder on the computer held three chapters before problems reared their ugly heads. Oh, not with the story or the manuscript but with life interfering with my work time. I still managed to take a fifteen-to-twenty-minute writing time every day (as best-selling author Jodi Thomas says every writer must do), but the short periods of time didn't slow the movie's demands. Life didn't slow its demands, either.
4RV Publishing's authors, editors, illustrators, projects, and problems: All needed attention NOW. Poor health taxed my energy and concentration ability. Living alone (except for a black cat named Panther, who also required attention) meant I must fix or do all meals, cleaning, and other necessities. Still, in my head runs a different movie, the one triggered by the found manuscript.
Yes, I MUST write because of an inner urge, demand, requirement, but life does get in the way too often.