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Why I Do It: a Dozen Reasons

There's so much discussion in the blogosphere that echoes what I hear at conventions about writing, and that discussion centers on marketing and business.  Jason Stoddard's vigorous take on marketing, for example, makes compelling arguments about the direction writers who hope to remain commercial will need to go.  I've also read with interest Cory Doctorow's take on copyright and the electronic world, and I've watched with some alarm the predictions of the death of print magazines (predictions which have been repeated for decades).

I've taken notes on various folks' points about the market, and I've tried to learn from the best.

Still, an overdose of marketing and business overtakes me occasionally, and I have to sit down to remember what I really like about writing:

1)   I love opening a fresh file, putting my name and address in the left corner, then spacing to the middle of the page to start a new story.

2)   I love when a story rolls easily.  I type with my eyes closed, letting the almost physical current of the story move me.

3)   I love making up character names, and then thinking about them so often with such intensity that I start dreaming them.

4)   I love realizing I've written the perfect line of dialogue or a description that could only exist in that story, that makes perfect sense in that story, but would be nonsensical anywhere else.  It's like Dr. Bennel saying, "I didn't know the meaning of fear until I kissed Becky," in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Christoff saying, "Cue the sun," in The Truman Show.

5)   I love writing a story on my laptop while sitting in my van in a parking lot, during a snow storm, while my son does a basketball practice.

6)   I love the rush of knowing a story's end before I get there, when all my own composition questions are suddenly answered and I know where I'm going.

7)   I love that as an adult I haven't lost my passion for science fiction and fantasy.  This is no small deal either.  When I was in junior high, a teacher told me I'd outgrow science fiction.  It was the grimmest thing a grownup ever said to me.

8)   I love finishing a story because now I have something to edit.  Lots of people hate editing, but I really like going back through to make the story better.  Adding, subtracting, rearranging, rewording, 10% solutioning, rethinking and any other "ing" I left out are all fun to me.

9)   I love standing in line at the post office with a manuscript in hand.

10)   I love getting mail from editors.

11)   I love when a kid in one of my classes comes to class with one of my books and says, "Did you really write this?"

12)   I love SFWA.  No, not the bickering.  I love a club of adults who believe it's okay and fun to think of the world in science fictional and fantasy terms.  I love that so many of them are deeply and integrally involved with language and story telling.

This is my short list of things I love about writing.  Tomorrow I'll probably be hilt deep in some marketing concern (and I am very interested in ways to help my work find readers, and help money find its way to me), but today . . . I just want to contemplate why I love writing.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 9th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. It's a nice reminder. I've been so busy with marketing my new book, I've slowly been forgetting why I do this in the first place...

Sometimes I think that if I would have known how much marketing was going to be involved, I would have found something else to do...although writing is kind of an addiction, so I probably never could have escaped.

Mar. 9th, 2007 02:35 am (UTC)
Hey, J! Thanks for dropping by. I must be in a melancholic mood today. I'm grading the short stories my high school SF class wrote, and it's clear that so many of them just had fun while writing. It made me thoughtful.
Mar. 12th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
I really love doing the research and the planning and thinking about the characters. The physical act of writing is the part I like least.

But I LOVE doing the research....
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )