Friday, May 4, 2012

The Writing Biz: Why Writers Write

I get questions all the time about the writing business and what it means to be a professional author. I thought I would start discussing a few of the basics know, in between pictures of cute cats. Let me know if you have any particular questions, and I'll try to answer them.

Here's the one I've been pondering this week: why do writers write?

Obviously, I can answer that question for myself. But I also have a LOT of friends who are writers, and read the blogs of many of the authors I admire but haven't as yet had a chance to stalk get to know. And actually, it turns out that on this subject, we all agree.

Let me tell you: it's not for the money. I have a few friends who are actually more or less making a living writing, but almost everyone I know has a day job, a significant other with a day job, or both. [I'll talk about the money part more on a later blog post.] Contrary to popular belief, VERY FEW authors get rich. Or even make a living wage.

The fame? Well, not so much. I am finally getting to the point in my career where some people know who the heck I am--if they're Pagans, and if they read. Famous, I'm not. (Although I do get a kick out of it when my grown step-daughter calls me and says she met another Witch, told them who her mother was, and they said, "You know Deborah Blake! Wow." Giggle.)

So why do we do it? Why spend hour after hour writing, when there is a good chance that no one but your first readers, your mom, and some agents will see it (you know, before they reject it)? Or, for the published and reasonably successful folks, why do it when you could make a lot more money doing something else? And have paid vacations that aren't spent scribbling some idea that popped into your head just as you started to relax.

Because you can't NOT write. That's why.

As some of you know, I've been working on my latest novel for about 4 months (not counting the prep time pre-holidays, which was another month or two). I finally finished revisions a week ago and sent the manuscript off to my agent with a huge sigh of relief. I was going to get my life back!

My plan was--and still is--to take a couple of weeks off from writing so I could catch up on the jewelry making, the garden, the yard, and some social obligations...all of which NEED to be done, and I'm way behind on every single one.

And yet...I started thinking about what happens in the next book in the series (following the one I just sent to Elaine), and jotting down a few notes, so I don't forget them. My acquisitions editor at Llewellyn had an idea for a small, fun book that she passed along to me in case I was interested. So I started doing a little research, pondered an outline, and took some notes on that too. And there is the humorous paranormal novel I started at the time I was fighting the beginning of Seeds of Change, purely as comic relief. I'd REALLY like to get back to that one...

I need to stick (mostly) to my plan to catch up with the rest of my life. But the voices in my head are getting louder...

If you write, do you find it is hard to NOT write? If you're not a writer, is there anything you get obsessive about doing? (And no--playing Angry Birds doesn't count. Something creative, like knitting, or making music, or cooking...)

Deb, getting ready to go to her day job (and thinking about the theme for her next Witches & Pagans Magazine column)

Oh, and since it is Friday, here's a Feline Friday picture, just for the heck of it.

That's Mystic, who somehow still manages to look cute and adorable, even though he's huge. (Seriously, look at the size of those paws!)


  1. EEEE! Look at the shnoz on him. I love boys with big noses.

    When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing or fretting because I'm not, or I'm journaling like a fiend, drowning myself in books and can frequently be found playing with dirt, clay or paint. Music? Constant. Though I only tend to pick up the guitar when I'm not writing, because I get kind of obsessed and it's hard on the hands.

    Off to write because I must. Not because I'm getting rich or famous... ;)

    1. Me too. Men with big noses as well. Go figure.

      The rich and famous is coming any second now!

  2. I am always plotting something. I try to explain I can't NOT write and they think I'm nuts. "Don't you wanna make money?" they ask? Sure but I haven't sold a book in weeks and I'm ok with that.

    1. Weeks? You usually sell a book every few weeks? *looks impressed*

  3. You've really nailed it on the head - it's a creativity outlet, and a *need*, as real and immediate as eating, drinking, breathing, sleeping. I have always written, even when I didn't think I was really ever going to publish anything. Now that I have published (mostly nonfiction articles that are academic in nature) and am actively working on my novels, I am driven and possessed (haha, go figure!) Each idea or piece completed leads to another, or five, or ten - it's like a hydra! There will never be a lack of something to write about - the great tragedy of it, of course, is that there's no way to write it all. I find in this that my fiction and my scholarly output share that trait. And I would totally go fan-girl crushy on you if we met IRL, but only for a moment, then I'd be cool and we'd have drinkies and chat. :o)

  4. Melissa,
    I do the fan-girl crushy thing all the time when I meet writers I respect and admire. Feel free :-)

  5. My best friend accuses me of having OCD, and she's right! My life revolves around my two obsessions: writing and horse training/competing. Neither one leaves enough time for the other, but fortunately I can make a living combining them: I train/compete for most of my income, and my riding skills text books and magazine column/features supplement that, but I'd love to have more time for my fiction as well!
    Whilst driving between clients, I plot and keep verbal notes (one day I'll get pulled over, I'm sure) and once I'm home I can't wait to get back to my laptop. Housework gets done only when it rains and I get cancellations. Just as well I only have myself to please!

  6. Cute kitty. That's me - I just can't NOT write. And it's a wonderful outlet for me.