Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Do I Write?

Two different writers sites/groups that I visit on the Internet asked that question this week. Chip MacGregor, in his blog post on Wednesday, answered the question "Why do I write?" And The Writers View 2, in their Thursday question, asked us to answer, in a sentence, the question, "What is your motivation for writing?" Interesting that these two sites should ask basically the same question at the same time. They set me to thinking about my own motivation for writing, and how I got to the point I'm at now.

It started back in the late 90s, I guess. I wrote some letters to the editor, and a couple of political essays. And a couple of work-place ditties. At the same time an idea for a novel started floating around in my head. Almost instantaneously I saw the beginning and the ending. The connecting scenes came to mind a bit later. I made a start on it, getting 15,000 words typed by December 2000. Meanwhile an idea for a second novel started to come together.

By this time I was attending a writers critique group twice a month, sharing my essays and chapters. I began looking for writing advice on the web. My goal was to complete my novel and have it published. My goal was to tell the world a story; a Christian story that might encourage people and change some lives.

I completed that novel in January 2003, and began to rework it while at the same time market it. I attended my first writers conference in March 2003, just a regional conference in Oklahoma City. I learned a lot there, especially how difficult it would be to find a publisher--unless I wanted to self-publish, which I did not. I learned that publishers really weren't interested in writers who wanted to tell a story. They wanted writers who wanted careers as writers.

So I branched out. I found an outlet for some of my editorials in the local newspaper. When we moved from Bentonville to Bella Vista I changed writers groups to one that met weekly. Through that group I was able to get five feature articles in our local newspaper. I went to other writers conference and read other blogs. Since I prepared and wrote my own adult Sunday school lessons, I began to do these more formally with the intent of making them "publishable". The road to being published looked harder with each conference session I attended and each web page I read. But I began to diversify and write articles. Oh, year, somewhere along the way I became interested in writing poetry, and realized I could write it and should write it. And then in 2006 there was the short biography I wrote of one of Lynda's great-grandfathers.

That brings us to today. Novel 1 is finished, polished four times, and in the drawer biding its time. Novel 2 is at about 17,000 words on its way to 80,000, waiting for me to get back to it. My poetry book is finished, in the drawer waiting for me to decide how to market it. I've got lots of articles written, one published in print and 110 published at Internet sites with more on the way. I'm building a stable of articles. Whether these will develop and demonstrate a platform or simply be an exercise will be seen in the next few years.

So where does that leave me? I wanted to tell a story, but that's not what publishers wanted to buy, so I'm trying to do what the publishers want. But the writing bug has definitely bit me. I want my words to have an impact on the world, specifically to further the cause of Jesus Christ. I want my secular writings to be underpinned by a Christian worldview that comes out in very subtle ways. I want my Christian writings to be directly helpful to those of the faith.

I'm not sure where I stand. It's been an interesting journey so far, a journey that I'm not about to give up, but which I can't tell where I am on it. I hope someday I'll be able to write my autobiography and title it The Journey Was A Joy. Guess I'm still heading in that direction.

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