To write, you have to love it. If you don’t, you will only get so far or last so long. Why? Because, in the end, writing, for most people, isn't necessary. It's merely a hobby.
I will start this off by confessing that I love that I have been published. I love that I get to see the story I created down in print form. I love to see other people enjoy that story and get to know the characters I discovered while writing it. March 10, 2015, began a new chapter in my writing career, one that I had been working toward for nearly ten years of my life.
I will, however, admit that at that point writing changed for me. Not necessarily for good or ill. It was just... different.
You see, early in my writing career, when I was a much younger version of myself, I would stay up late into the night and spend hours writing. I immersed myself into a story that I loved, but one that I could also control. It was novel (no pun intended… well, maybe a little.) There was… freedom, for lack of a more specific word. There was no sort of urgency, no sort of pressure. If a better idea came along, I could go back and change the story to include it.
Fast forward several years and some of that has changed.
While pursuing writing before being published, I considered it a career, but it never felt like one. It doesn’t feel like one now, but something is different (and it’s not my bank account).
I still love to write and immerse myself into the story, but there is this unseen pressure that wasn’t there before. There is also a realization that I have had to deal with, a reality check you could say. I am no longer naive about this industry or the future. This leads me to why I began writing this post in the first place.
Ten years or so ago, when I first started developing the Scar of the Downer series, I knew where I was going to go, in terms of the story and its ending . In all that time, it has never changed. The story is very similar in nature to when I first conceived it, although now it is a bit more fleshed out. And while writing, at times, has been difficult, I must admit that it’s never been more difficult than it has been lately.
The story is there, in my mind, but it’s become more difficult to put down on paper (in my case, on a screen). I’ve become, in a sense, tired.
Why? I don't know. Perhaps it's disillusionment. Who's to say?
Despite these feelings, do I regret any of this? Not at all! Do I still want to write? Absolutely! In fact, I have other novels in the works. But like all things one tries to do for a living, even if one loves it, it becomes work. A job. That is the saddest part about this whole adventure - when what you love becomes work. That is where I am right now. It’s been a slow, difficult slog as of late. There have been days when only a few hundred words have been written, and that's been a good day. It’s been discouraging. Not just the writing, but life in general. It’s all intertwined.
Does anyone really care about my story? These are real doubts and questions that haunt me still.
There have been many times I could’ve quit. But I haven’t. I pressed on. Why? Because, in the end, I love it. And it’s the love of writing that’s kept me persevering.
That is why you must love doing it. If you don’t, you will stop and never look back.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.