WHY DO WE DO THIS? Copyright 2004, Michael LaRocca
A major "character" in Mark Salzman's first autobiography is his father. Sometimes his father paints. But his father hates painting. He likes it when his painting is done. He likes having painted. But act of painting itself is, in his opinion, a big pain in backside.
Nobody reading this approaches writing like that, do they? I know I don't. Of all my experiences as an author, whacking those words down onto paper is best of best. Always has been, always will be. Even though I cut most of them. I like creating.
I've quoted Hemingway before. Long periods of thinking, short periods of writing. These days, my thinking takes longer and my periods of writing are getting less frequent, but both still happen, and I still love creating something from nothing.
If it weren't for me, you would never read words you're reading right now. Nobody else would ever write them. And they contain my thoughts. Through time and space, better than telepathy, you hear what I'm saying.
So, there's one reason to write, isn't it? The biggie, if you ask me. I write what I do because I can't NOT write it. I may be clarifying my thoughts in my own head. But, most certainly, I'm just so moved by those thoughts that I must put them on paper. They're in me and they have to get out, kinda like those critters in ALIEN movies.
Is this only reason to write? Because I want to zap my thoughts into your heads? I don't know. But let me change question. Is this a reason to publish? Why not write your books and stick them in a filing cabinet like Sean Connery did in film FINDING FORRESTER? Write it, express it, file it away. Why publish it?
(It's okay if you haven't seen this obscure little gem. I will explain all.)
In fact, there are writers who do exactly that. Some fear rejection or criticism. We hear about them whenever we pop into a writing workshop. But, I don't think there are very many of them. I have trouble picturing someone who can spend months (years?) doing something as essentially egotistical as writing a novel, but who is fundamentally lacking in any sort of self-confidence. Naw, they're thinking posterity but lack stones to admit it.
At times I've got an inferiority complex I wouldn't dream of whacking onto your shoulders, but it was absent when I wrote my books. During act of writing itself, you think, "My words are better than your words." You do. You feel that you must record your thoughts because they're that much better than most. That's what writing is. So, I would say that by definition author isn't ALWAYS plagued by self-doubt.
In FINDING FORRESTER, Sean Connery character won Pulitzer with his first book, saw that every reviewer misunderstood him, and decided they could all get stuffed. This is a movie, a work of fiction, but I understand attitude. I once wrote a true story, where main character was Michael LaRocca, only to have a critic slam main character as "unbelievable." Apparently I don't act like real people.
I could never shove all my writing in a filing cabinet, unpub- lished, and tell establishment to get stuffed. But yep, there are stupid people in world, and some of them review books.
So, we've identified two groups who won't be seeking publication. Hopelessly insecure and hopelessly arrogant. But, like Aristotle, I prefer moderation. You still may be wondering why I seek publi- cation. So do I. Let my exploration of this question continue.
I've hit best-seller status for two different e-publishers with three different books. Minor thrills at time, but there's no way I could call them enough of a reward for what I put into writing.
You're an author. You know what I'm talking about. We all but kill ourselves to make our books. So, let's be blunt here. Unless you're going to throw Rowling/King/Clancy/Grisham money at me -- and you're NOT -- money isn't sufficient reason to publish.
Publishing isn't just a case of sending it to a publisher, signing a contract, and being done.
Next up is editing, which is a blast. Not at time, perhaps. Any editor worth a damn will beat you over head with every bad word choice you ever made. And you made hundreds! But at end of that gauntlet, you know you are da bomb.
Seeing my cover art is almost always awesome. Yes, I did say "almost." One bad experience among seven. It happens. But, if you've worked with a publisher, you know what I mean. You log onto Internet one morning, not fully conscious, amazed that you poured that first cup of coffee without burning off your naughty bits. You pop open an email and see cover art that almost makes your head explode. You get this big rush, thinking, "Someone understands my writing!" What you don't realize, naive little author, is that some artists don't even read books they do art for. But still. The art rocks your world. Feel that. I always enjoy clicking those email attachments and seeing MY book covers.