In the past I have asked myself, “Why are you writing? Why do you do it?” To be honest, I sometimes still ask that question.
After receiving several rejections from agents, the answer became less clear as more doubt seeped in.
Why do I do it? Don’t I have anything better to do with my time than sitting by myself putting words on paper or screen, words that no one other than my wife or children may read? Couldn’t I choose a less masochistic profession, maybe something with a bit more affirmation?
There is a part of me that would have loved to choose something else, something less time consuming. I already have more than a full-time job raising my children and homeschooling them. Do I really want to spend my nights, weekends, and kid nap times sitting alone writing?
Though at times I would love to pick a different career, I can’t seem to break away from it.
But why? Why can’t I?
When the brief feelings of rejection and failure dissipated, the reason I write became obvious – I like it. (I also feel a strange compulsion to do it, but that's another blog post.)
So, in the end, it’s as simple as that.
I didn't start writing to become famous or rich, and I'm not under any delusion that my novel will become the next Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. So it's not really complicated at all.
This may sound weird, but I like to imagine things.
I like stories and adventure, and if the most I accomplish as an author is that my children and wife read and love my books, well, I have to believe that I’ve accomplished enough.
I would love to make a living off of my writing. I would love my book to sell well, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen. But in the end, my purpose isn't riches or fame. It is to create a good story, and when I’ve finished writing a book, I know that is what I’ll have. If I don’t see that before I am published, I will not see it after.
This much I know. Doubts are immune from success, and no amount of money can drive away insecurity. Believe in your book, even if no one else does. Now I’m not saying that your story couldn’t or shouldn’t be edited or critiqued. Nothing is perfect, even our own writing.
But a writer’s view of himself cannot hinge on what an editor, an agent, a publisher, or a critic thinks of him or her.
When it comes down to it, only those who write because they love it will persevere. They will have success, because their view of success will not be dependent upon someone else’s actions.
My point is this. The only reason to write is because you love it. It’s the only way you’ll stick to it, especially once you see the bank account of a writer (and I’m not talking about the rich ones). This career path can be very lonely and discouraging, only the love of it will make it worthwhile.
Scott Keen grew up in New York, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn't want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing--he became a writer.