Writers – why do we do it?

lawn mowerIt’s late September in England, it is a beautiful warm early autumn morning and I’m cutting the grass.  As usual when I’m doing something like that my mind starts to wander.  And maybe because I now consider myself a writer, my mind wanders in that direction.  Sometimes it focuses on a story I’m writing or revising at that time.  Sometimes it’s a new story that has percolated in my brain.  This time though its blog ideas and starts with my last blog (Blogs for bloggers and writers) which came out of a need for me to turn more attention to the marketing of my books.  Which in turn feeds the self-doubt that I guess most writers have from time to time.  The ‘why am I doing this?’ question.

Yes, perhaps I’m going through a bit of a crisis of belief.  Something I suppose most writers go through (it’s hardly a secure profession).   I know I’m luckier than most.  I took a package from a large company some five years ago which allows me the time and freedom to write.  But if I wanted a wage for all the effort I’ve put in, the UK prescribed minimum would be an aspiration.  Which in turn gets me asking again ‘why I do it?’ or ‘why do any of us do it?’ apart from (but, perhaps including) those who manage to make a living from it.

The most basic reason is that it fulfils some inner need we have as writers.  Maybe that sounds a little pompous or self-righteous but that’s how it started for me.  When my place of work had little for me to do I decided to test myself and try to write that science fiction novel I’d always been telling myself and other people I could.  And I did.  I then spent time and some money getting advice and revising and revising until I thought I had a decent book.  Its then, when you dip your toe into the world of publishing that the disappoint starts (ref: previous blogs).

I’m a member of a writing group (see: Why you should join a writing group) and for half of them that inner fulfilment I mention above is enough.  They are doing it for themselves and possibly their nearest and dearest.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But I guess that is not enough for me.  It’s not that I’m looking for fame and fortune, but I do want people to read my books and enjoy them.  One of my most encouraging moments was the comment of an early reader of ‘Project Noah’.  His wife asked why he was so late coming to bed.  He replied that he couldn’t stop reading my book, he just had to finish it.  That is why I write.

sunflowersNow I wouldn’t turn it down if Sky Atlantic wanted to buy the rights to one of my books (family joke – as in ‘everything will be fine when Sky Atlantic buy the rights to my book’).  I know, of course, that I probably have more chance of being struck by lightning.  However, it would be nice if my sales paid back the money I have invested, with perhaps a little more for a holiday every now and then.  And part of me does think, ‘come on they’re less than the price of a cup of coffee, what have you got to lose?’  But the bottom line is I just want more people to read them and enjoy them.  Which is why I should get back to my series of blogs on ‘Blogs for writers and bloggers,’ so that maybe I can reach that wider audience and encourage them to do just that.  I promise that whatever I find out I’ll let you know.

Of course I will also keep writing my stories, both long and short, because that’s the only way I can get them out of my head.  Perhaps the need to write is some sort of infection?

As always advice, ideas, comments are welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

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