I’m on a difficult quest right now. I’ve produced something amazing, I think, and I’m not sure what to do about it. The product is six novels. Their cost has been most of my free time for six years. The answer to my quest lies in why I wrote these books to begin with. So, I’m forcing myself to take a deep dive into my real motivations, no self-delusions allowed.
Why do I write?
Yeah, I’ve establish that I write for fun and to learn things, both of which have been terrific, by the way. I write for the less admirable reason of keeping myself sane, or at least having an outlet to explore the darker things in my head. I think that one is going fairly well, too. I do write hoping to make a little money, and that one hasn’t worked out as well as expected.
The hardest one to admit? I write to be cool. To be admired. To be praised. For the little bump of status it sometimes gives me even while thinking I’m above such things and don’t care what others think of me. Because of course I do care, as we all do. What varies is how much we care, and how much we let it control our actions.
Much of each of my main characters is me, and I suppose that is typical. Zane, the hero of y1, is an A student who is used to commendations and who struggles when others deem him average or worse. I had a start in life much like Zane’s, leaving high school as editor of my school paper, an almost solid A student with a cup full of debate and speech medals.
Zane struggles to make A’s in his work place just as I did in mine. This exchange between Zane and his new boss came from my heart.
“Zane, this is just perfect. Just the way I hoped you would grab onto this project.”
Zane thought about how very good it felt to have someone be proud of him. He was getting an “A” again. He was Brainy Zany. Goddammit, he had missed that guy.
This raises the question of whether writing novels has really done much to make me feel valued.
Well, it seems to have impressed family and friends, but one would hope that would be the case. I’ve also had some great reviews from total strangers and I admit their praise has made me glow inside.
Writing is not a great way to get nothing but praise, however. The first review from someone who hates your book is crushing, and inevitable if you are getting a lot of real reviews from strangers. For every acquaintance at a party who was impressed by the idea of my novels, I’ve met two bookstore owners or other authors with better pedigrees who turned their noses up at me.
The highs are high, but the lows are plentiful. If I really was doing this for love and admiration I would be far better served adopting a puppy.
Yet, we all crave what we crave and I apparently want to be appreciated and admired as a writer. So be it. Guess I have to keep at it, learning and improving, until what I write is worthy of the all the praise I hope for.
(Read more about why I write at The Number One Reason I Write Books, My Eye-opening Second Reason for Writing, I write because it’s cheaper than therapy, Nothing cool about modest ambitions and Remember My Name.)