It’s a fair question. If you write, as a hobby, aspiring professional/artist or even as a full time professional: why do you do it? What is it that makes a person sit down at a keyboard (or with pad and pen), block out the world and dive?
Poetry, essays, fiction, whatever. If I told you right now that the odds are you will never be published… will you still do it? Will you still scribble on napkins, the backs of envelopes? Will you fill notebooks and computer files with your ideas? Or will you simply stop working? If you were working in paint, and were told that you have an amazing gift but it will only be for you & your loved ones… maybe a few friends… would you keep painting? Art for arts sake.
Writing is a weird art. Everyone thinks they can do it. Most of us deal in words daily, tossing them around. Not everyone can pick up a paint brush and make something that looks remotely like what it’s supposed to. Most people understand that just because you can do a line dance doesn’t mean that you can dance in a professional ballet….
But we’re not talking about them. Or are we? If you could never be published, if your words only affected a select few in your life, would you still have the compunction to share them?
I’ve actually faced this question twice this year. Both times, I felt perhaps it was time to stop submitting my work. Stop sharing for a little while. And yet somehow I kept it together, kept going. Little by little, I’m still sharing that writing. But even publication was beyond my grasp, I would still write. I know this because I’ve lived it.
I write for one or two reasons. The first is that I’m bored with other books and want to see what kind of adventure I can come up with. The second is…. because I have to. A compulsion, a spilling forth of part of your soul that needs healing. So yes, if I never had another contract again, I would still write.
The contracts are nice, I will admit that. But not just because it gets the words out there. Lord knows its not because I’m getting rich off of it. Contracts are nice because they tell you when you’re on the right track. Also, the editing process is an eye opener into the craft. Ultimately, it makes you better not because of the accolades but because of the practice.
Because it takes practice. Practice. Writing a million words or more, reading widely… it all adds up.
So what about you? Would you write without accolades?
Personally, I have to write if I want to stay sane.