Bob Clary from Webucator contacted me on behalf of NaNoWriMo, inviting me to do a December “wrap up” post about what keeps me going as a writer. To begin with, I’d like to paraphrase Terry Brooks when asked a similar question at a book-signing event I attended. He said something like:
Authors write because we HAVE to. If you have a choice, do something else. It is a long, thankless, lonely process. Some of us just don’t have a choice. We HAVE to write, so we do.
That having been said, here are my answers to the questions Bob sent me.
1) What were your goals when you started writing?
My first goal was to finish a novel. Check. Later, I wrote because I loved it. I liked doing challenging things, and wanted to be part of the great literary conversation.
2) What are your goals now?
My immediate goals are to finish the Actuator series and find a publisher for the comic book I recently wrote. I’m also planning to find a literary agent in the near future.
3) What pays the bills now?
I have a day job, teaching. It’s a great career.
4) Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?
I write because I have to. My mind is a jumble of chaotic ideas. I think I’m ADD. When I write, though, all the random thoughts focus like a laser. It’s like meditation, where my thoughts all come together and I can rest from the constant bombardment of ideas that bounce around inside me all the time. Also, I love it when readers enjoy my books. It feels like a deep communication, which is very satisfying.
5) And optionally, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
People will tell you it’s hard to make a living as a writer. If you’re like me, it’s even harder to NOT be a writer. My job feels like it’s taking up valuable writing time. It takes years to build up fans and make a living off writing… usually about ten. So get started fast and don’t look back.
A final piece of advice for NaNoWriMo authors—keep writing in December! Don’t stop just because you won or didn’t win in November. The only time I succeeded at NaNoWriMo, I kept pushing halfway into December until I finished the book. There are too many half-written books in the world. Finish the book at all costs. You can’t edit what’s not there. And even if you don’t sell it, you need the psychological affirmation of being a finisher. You need to be able to prove to yourself you can. A finished book is a much bigger win. It’s a step up on your writing journey.
If you want to see my NaNo-success, it’s Salvation. If you want to know why I haven’t done it again since, read my previous post. I recently did a podcast interview about it on Back Porch Writer. You can get the follow-up notes with advice to new writers, as well.