When I tell people I’m writing a story, the first question they always ask (aside from “What? Really?”) is “are you going to publish it?” Which I guess is fair enough. I would love to be a published author someday – I really would. However, my answer at the moment just has to be “I don’t know.” This brings me to two points. My reason for saying this and their response to this answer.

Approaching the latter first, the most common response I get is one that has begun to really annoy me. More often than not, people will respond by saying “If you aren’t going to publish it, then what is the point in writing it?” Cue my blood starting to simmer. Without turning this into a rant, I would like to pose these people a question in response – what benefit do you gain from your hobbies? What benefit is there from playing computer games all day aside from the sheer fun of it? We can’t all be Park Sung-Joon, getting paid to play StarCraft all day. What benefit is there to watching television or films? Aside from a wealth of hilarious quotes applicable to any conceivable situation, that is. Are you training to be a critic? Oh right, it’s just fun. It’s entertaining. This is why I write. It is my hobby. Even if a respected critic read my work, laughed and told me I should never put fingers to keys again, would I listen to them? No, because I’m doing this for other people as much as people watch TV or play games for others (ie. I’m not).

Even if my sole purpose for writing was to become a published author, I would still continue to write stories I have no intention of trying to get published. Writing well is not a skill one just picks up and away they go to the publishers. Writing well is hard and it takes a lot of practice. I think it’s a bit of a tall order to expect that every idea that comes out of someone’s head is nothing short of genius. People have bad ideas but they can be ideas that they still love themselves. So why shouldn’t they write them? Aside from the sheer enjoyment, every story written teaches the author something about writing.

Now, onto point two. Why would I, someone who would love to be an author, not send away the works I have shed blood, sweat and tears into? The simple answer is that I just don’t think this is what publishers are looking for. When reading the criteria publishers look for in novels, one of the big mentions I see coming up frequently is an issue of genre. I don’t think the particular stories I’m writing at the moment really fit into predetermined genre expectations and I don’t have any intention of changing them that dramatically. To fix my concerns the alterations to the story would leave it unrecognisable and then they wouldn’t be the same stories that I love, would they? Obviously, I am not referring to small changes here – anyone getting published has to resign themselves to those. I just don’t want to have the very fabric of the story removed. (Not what I’m talking about here but as a slight aside, here is one shocking request some authors have been given.)

I think I’ve managed to avoid ranting. Maybe. Anyway, the gist of what I’m saying is – writing is fun. I do it for me and if I ever churn something out that might be publishable, you bet your bottom that bad boy is getting sent to a publisher. And, if that never ever happens, I’ve still had hours and hours of fun and what have I lost? That’s right. Nothing.

5 responses to “Why?

  1. I was going to comment on the content of your blog, but then I followed the link to the article about LGBTI protagonists if YA fiction, and all my other thoughts went out the window. Thank you so much for sharing that article. It’s obviously an issue that doesn’t get talked about enough, and even if you are just slipping it into a blog post on another topic, thank you very much.

    • Also, what I originally meant to say was that I really like your attitude to writing, and that you continue to enjoy it, when so many people out there get so stressed about something that started out as a fun hobby.

      • Thanks! I’ve let too many things I love turn into ‘work’, I’m not about to let it happen again any time soon. And I’m glad you appreciated the link, I was so shocked when I read it I just felt the need to share.

  2. Lost?! Lost?! In twenty years, thirty years, or even more, you just need to open your laptop and see all that you have achieved with this ‘hobby’. You can enjoy it, re-live it, and adapt it! Now think of your generic sportsperson (say, our communal climbing friend ;D). In his old age he will have a ton of photographs, short clips, and smelly gear, and so he can relive the memories…but can he really experience that same feeling he had on the cliff face from the safety of his couch? Maybe. Perhaps he has a fantastic memory, and a really good imagination…but can he share that feeling with us? I think not.

    • Haha, poor boy! But I agree, provided I back up then my writing is something I will have forever. Whether anyone else likes it or not doesn’t matter, I will always love it. I never feel like time I have spent writing has been wasted.

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