Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Do You Seek Publication?

I’ve done a number of posts on what keeps writers going, and more often than not the answers are that you need to write and have to write. But my question today is a little different. What makes you seek publication? I understand that as writers you feel the pull to write in much the same way a runner needs to run. But why not just keep a journal or a blog or simply write for yourself? Why not write your stories and just leave them on your computer? Why do you feel the need to continue to subject yourself to the cruelties of publishing?

Let’s face it, publishing is a rough business. Before you even get in the door of an agency you often receive hundreds of rejections, and it usually doesn’t stop there. Once you have an agent it’s likely you’re going to receive at least some rejections from publishers, and then there are the reviews and the bitter comments from fellow writers, friends, and family asking when you are going to write a “real” book.

When I get emails from discouraged writers this is what I think they are asking. They don’t want to know what makes you physically put pen to paper, but what keeps you searching for publication. Why do you continue to submit and how do you keep going when the rejections pile up and you are hearing very little positive feedback?

I’m going to guess that the answers are all different. I know for me, when I’m going through a slump or am feeling discouraged, it’s the belief in myself and the love for a particular book. It’s the certainty that the clients I have are not just publishable, but meant to be published.

But what about you, what keeps you going?



B. bradley said...

Yeah, a million people might hate it and reject it, but if one person loves it enough to share with a friend, I think it would be worth it.
I am a person who not only buys books at big stores, but also used book stores, half off bins and libraries. I love books. There is no shame in ending up in those places as long as it finds a good home someday.

Chris Redding said...

I am the type of person that always needs to be working towards something. Except for my first part time job where there was nowhere to move, I am always moving up or learning new skills in a job.
So for me getting published is moving in a direction. First I was e-pubbed. Then I was pubbed by a bigger publisher. Now I have a contract for a small print publisher. I keep moving up the ladder. It is just how I am.
I couldn't expend all this energy just to show it to a friend.

Kristi26 said...

I think for me, it's the desire to be read by other people. I want to entertain them and/or get them thinking about what I've said in my stories.

Kalynne Pudner said...

To bring enjoyment to others, of course, but I also think there's an existential drive at work here. As long as the book is under my complete control, it doesn't really have an existence separate from me. When it's "out there" for people to choose, reject and respond to, on its own, then it's something real.

Anonymous said...

Why does a mother seek opportunity for her child no matter that she must often endure hardship and sacrifice to obtain it?

Emilie said...

I would guess that the reasons are different for nonfiction versus fiction. For me, (as a nonfiction writer) I want people to learn something from reading my writing. I love all the things that I learn while doing research on a topic and I think that it is not fair to keep that those things to myself. Plus, I really like seeing my name in print.

Anonymous said...

Timely post for me. It's hard to keep going. Some days are better than others. The publishing machine seems harder and harder to crack. I have this awful feeling that my book would have made it a couple years ago. Now, I am querying and there is a lot of interest. But always a comment about the current brutal fiction market. Why do I bother? I bother because I think what I've got--my writing talent, my ability to tell a story--is worthy of success. Publication is validation. And I have to keep thinking that I will get there--that every rejection does bring me closer to acceptance. If not with this book, the next.
Still, the injustice gets to me. The fiction market--it seems all YA or genre now. I know I want to read a book like mine--I KNOW others would want to read it. I feel I am up against something that I can't argue with or fight. It is depressing. But I have no choice but to keep going.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Initially, publication was my goal because that's what you do: you write a book, you get it published. Hey, I was in college.

Then I realized it was more than that. It's that I want to share my characters with people. I want to share my stories with people *I don't know.*

Now, what keeps me going is the knowledge that Trevor and his story (which is something I keep off my blog, despite Trevor's many appearances) deserve to be told. Trevor deserves to touch as many people as he can.

Yes, in as many ways as he can, too, the randy boy. *sigh*

Rita Gerlach said...

When I walk into a bookstore and my eyes scan the rows of novels, a sense of awe and longing overcomes me. It is difficult to explain the feeling. I'm sure I'm not the only writer that feels this way.

The writing process is incredible. But when I write 'the end' and have polished a story, a stark white manuscript is not an end in itself. I can't let that stack of paper sit on my desk collecting dust. I seek publication because I am compelled to see my story as a 'book'.

Serious writers put blood, sweat, and tears, into their work. I think the bottom line is we want our stories read. It's a driving force.

Why do I want to be published? Perhaps to affirm that what I'm doing, all the time I've put into writing, is worth it. Perhaps it is to earn a bit of a living. But more so, it is because I want to take people away from their daily grind to an imaginary place where they can escape the world for a while.

I want to have the same effect on readers as Charlotte Bronte had on me when I first read Jane Eyre.

Courtney Milan said...

Fun and profit.

Anonymous said...

Because every writer wants to think what they have to say is relevent.

It would be hard for a book to be considered relevent if it remains in manuscript form, and placed under your bed, as opposed, to, you know... on a bookstore shelf.

Inez Kelley said...

Why procreate? The world is overpopulated, filled with unspeakable horrors and hardships, can be a cold and cruel place. Yet knowing this, millions chose to bring an innocent, dependent baby into the world daily. For me, the answer is the same. A drive, an urge, a primal need to say 'This is my Creation and I love it'.

Jessica Nelson said...

Part dream, part practicality. I love to write and if someday I can be paid for it, then woohoo, I'm shooting for that. Plus, I've never had any kind of career ambitions and when my kids go back to school I'd like to be able to do something I feel good about and . . . get paid for it. Once I realized I could write a book, and that I liked it, it became my career ambition.
There's the dream part, too. The working hard for something I love, shooting for a goal, hoping other people liked what I wrote. I think it would feel wonderful to see my story sitting in a store.
But beyond that, I probably would write anyway. I mostly want to be published so that I can justify spending all day doing what I love. :-)

Kimber Li said...

Simple. I want to share my stories with other people who enjoy them. I know I'm not J.K. Rowling.

The instant a reader 'gets' my story is pure magic to me.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has touched on why I keep going.

It is hard when you're consistently slapped down then shown interest then slapped down again. Such a roller coaster!

But there's something inate within writers that makes us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try, try again. At least, the ones of us who are going to make it.

Part of it is believing in our ability, yes. Part of it's wanting to be hear/read by other people in hopes to touch their lives in some small way. And part of it is work ethic.

But the biggest part of it is for me, as someone stated above, the love of my characters. THEY have a story. THEY deserve to be heard.

And it's my job to see that they are.

Loren Eaton said...


Timmy Mac said...

For the money and the chicks, of course.

Am I right? Fist bump, someone. Fist bump!

No, but seriously...I'm seeking publication because writing without wanting someone to read it seems to me like doing musical theatre in your basement. Technically the same activity, but somehow missing the point.

kris said...

To be able to offer others what I have found in books: an escape, a different world, people who feel real, a full-bellied laugh.

And because I've been trying too damned long to walk away.

Keri Ford said...

Because how awesome would it feel to sell a book to a reader and have that person spend hours laughing and crying right along with the characters you created?

Inspire also said it wonderfully as I do feel that. That longing and knowing I BELONG in that group. I fumbled for several years on what I wanted to do with myself, but whatever I tried, nothing gave me a drive to want to do it. The first book idea gave me that rush of 'this is right, this is what I'm supposed to do with myself'.

Anonymous said...

To write well--really well--you've got to put lots of time into it. And I couldn't justify all the time I spend writing unless I was going to try getting it published.

I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was old enough to read. I love books, have loved to read for as long as I can remember. And I've always wanted to be a part of that world. So I can't remember a day when I didn't intend to seek publication someday.

Chro said...

To make a lasting contribution to the world, so that when I leave it, my voice lives on between those immortal pages.

Gina Black said...

I want people to read my books.

K J Gillenwater said...

I have had regular 9-5 jobs, and I hate them. I felt like something was wrong with me because I got absolutely no fulfillment out of some very interesting jobs. The only 'work' that has ever excited me, made me forget I've been typing for 2 hours, keeps me up at night imagining and dreaming, is writing.

I think most of us who keep going enjoy it so much that we want to make that our career...or at least a part-time career that is more fulfilling than the daytime job.

If you had a 'job' you could do and absolutely LOVE every day, wouldn't you do everything in your power to succeed?

Sure, I could write in a journal or share my books with friends, but would a nurse do the same with her skills? Or a lawyer? Or a plumber?

The minute I decided that I was meant to be a writer was probably the happiest day of my working life.

Shaun Carney said...

There is a little vanity involved. There's no doubt about that. You want others to read and enjoy your book; you want to be known as the best writer you can be; you want to see your name on the shelves. I can probably come up with tons of other egotistical reasons, but I don't think they are the driving force, not for me. Even if a story never gets an audience, there is the belief that the next book just might be "the one." I don't need to define that; as writers, we all know what that means. But maybe you've already written "the one," but the market isn't ready.

I have a story like that, but I am going to keep that book on the shelf for as long as necessary, because one day the market will be ready. Then, I want others to fall in love with the characters the way I did as I was creating them and watching them grow, and live, and love, and die. I want others to feel something of what I felt when I wrote it. From family and friends, to even coworkers of family and friends of friends, everyone who has read it has enjoyed it. One day, many more will too. This just isn't the time. Until then, I'll keep trying to write that "one."


Anonymous said...

Words in my head are mine. They belong to me. Some I like to keep there, but the ones I feel compelled to write down are different. They are thoughts I want to share, to cast into the world searching for understanding. In my heart, I want them to make a difference somehow, if only for entertainment and nothing more.

The next step in the evolution of words I am compelled to take out of my head and commit to paper is to communicate them to others, to connect with others on the planet.

And books are amazing things--magic as simple as words on a page. Reading defies time and distance limitations between people. Books reach out and allow us to touch the commonality of living...war, pain, sorrow, deliverance, forgiveness, love... All human experience can be shown instead of discussed; can be examined and experienced through the words of others as I sit under a tree or in my favorite chair.

To write stories is to experience vicariously the thrill, the danger, the pain and overwhelming emotion of things--and to have those stories published and have others experience them with you is the ultimate high, an amazing feat accomplished with something so simple. Words on a page.

Getting a book published is where the magic really begins.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Ya know, I never thought about it that way. Even when I was writing as a teen, I always thought about getting my words published. Looking at the reasoning now, I guess I want to share my words with the world. I want to touch a few minds--either to open them up if I can or to entertain them. I could do that with my blog, but publication reaches a much wider audience. And, of course, I'd like to be paid for my work someday. ;o)

Mark Terry said...

In my case, I make a living as a freelance writer, and a good one, so at least on one level I'd like to make money from writing fiction because it's more fun than writing business reports and magazine articles. That said, from a purely business point of view fiction doesn't make a lot of sense.

Part of what does it for me is just to look at the five bookcases in my office filled with novels that have provided me hours and hours of pleasure and my desire for my own books to be there with them.

Amie Stuart said...

I'm already published and you know, while there are just as many (or more) obstacles on this side of the fence, I think, at the heart of it, I'm just too damned stubborn to quit.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

"Seeking Publication" and the hope of a sale is the only excuse I can give my husband for five solid months of eating bologna sandwiches while I worked ridiculous hours through the first draft of my novel.


Anonymous said...

Just following the dream

Karen Duvall said...

Who wouldn't want to make a living doing what they love to do? Albeit few published authors actually make a living wage as novelists, but some do, and I want to be among the some.

It's also the challenge of achieving the ultimate goal. I've been through all the steps so far: Write a book, write a good book, write a great book, get pubbed by a small press (that's so fun!), get an agent to represent your great book to the big pubs (squeeee!!! this just happened last week and I'm still foating). So next up is that bigger contract, hopefully a multi-book deal. I'm a firm believer that if you're persistent and believe in yourself (and you write a great book *g*), it will happen.

Robena Grant said...

I finally found something I want and look forward to doing every day. I create stories.

As a friend and mentor tells me "writing is an arrogant act and you have to embrace that." It has taken me a long time to stop sitting on my hands and write from my heart, to let my true voice soar. Writing has helped me immensely on a personal level.

I'm not in a huge hurry to get published again, I was pubbed a couple of times through a small press. Those books weren't amazing. They were okay. This time around I'm learning more craft, taking smaller steps, lining up more manuscripts before taking the plunge.

Ultimately that is what I strive toward though, being published again, only better this time. Grin. I want to measure my growth as a writer. If my books sell well I'll know I've touched my audience with my voice and my ideas and that would make me very happy. It can't get much sweeter than that.

Angie Fox said...

I wish I could say I wanted to be published so I could change the world, or that I wanted to deliver deep, dark messages that people would want to climb to the top of a mountain and ponder, but that’s a bunch of malarkey and you’d see right through it anyway. Truth? I got into novel writing for the same reason I got into broadcast advertising – I like creating fun, quirky things that people enjoy. It’s a kick to create an ad, cast it, shoot it and the whole time know that you’re doing something that is going to make people smile.

And I found novels are even better because in that medium, I can do exactly what I want. I’m not creating with a team or under a client (well, unless you count my editor, but she is all about a story that pulls readers in and as long as I’m doing that, she lets me do what I want). I’m responsible for the end product in a way that’s both thrilling and a bit scary. But that’s fun too – the challenge of it.

In a way, I suppose I’m not at all unlike my 4-year-old daughter who likes to perform on top of her toy chest. It’s the thrill of “hey, look at this!” multiplied by 320 pages.

Anonymous said...

We have a local theater group in our town that produces a musical each year. So why do all of these people spends weeks rehearsing Cole Porter songs, memorizing their lines? Why do the musicians learn the tunes? They're not being paid...they actually "pay" for the privilege with their hard work and time. Yet they do it because they love it.

Words are written in the hopes that they will be read and, perhaps, change someone's life in a profound way. Writers have no way of having their works read except through publication.

Will I make a living at it? Probably not. Will I become famous like Stephen King or Dean Koontz, et al? I doubt it. Publication is the only validation of a writer's work and, if I'm lucky, someone somewhere will be changed at least a little and see the world in a slightly different light because of the words I wrote.

Kate Douglas said...

Stubbornness, I imagine. I decided I wanted to write when I was very young and that was the goal I set for myself--to write books that people would enjoy and be able to make a living doing it. Once I set myself on a particular course, it's hard to convince me to change--including twenty years of rejection letters from just about every editor of romance in the business! And, for those who haven't made it to publication yet, DON'T ever give up, because it's worth every headache, every looming deadline and every moment when you feel abandoned by your muse, just to walk into a bookstore and see your name on book covers on the front table or on spines, lined up along the racks!

Anonymous said...

It's publish or perish. If I don't publish I won't be able to attract the grants, residencies, scholarships, and, I hope eventually, advances/royalties I need to sustain my writing and my sanity. I don't fool myself that people read the stories I publish in literary magazines, or that if they do it will make much difference in their, or any, universe. But I do know that publications keep my CV alive while I'm working on bigger, better things. Literary publication does also give me the occasional reminder that my peers, or at least some of them, think I'm on the right track, and that helps.

Travis Erwin said...

1) It's the only way to get paid and one day I'd love to make a living doing what I love -- writing.

2) I'm a competitive persona and seeking publication is the way you keep score so to speak.

3) ego

4) To prove to myself and others than I have what it takes.

Anonymous said...

Ego, validation & to a lesser degree, financial.

Writing is a passion, story telling a gift. But bottom line is I long to see my book in print and on the shelves of a bookstore and read by strangers.

Knowing that finally my story, my characters no longer reside only in my imagination and in the pages of a lone manuscript.

To be published would at long last free my characters and allow them and their story to take on a life of their own.

Shaun Carney said...

I'm with Kate. You have to keep going. I've had a few short stories published, but no books, but I will keep at it, even if it takes twenty years for me as well. I keep every rejections letter (they're almost always form letters). Once, I received an email rejection that, at the end, said, "You write well. Keep it up." That's the kind of rejection you can feel good about. This isn't off-topic either, because one of those inspiring rejections is worth more than all the form letters combined, and that keeps me going too.


Anonymous said...

Because writing for yourself is like playing tennis with a wall.

Writing is an act of communication. There needs to be someone on the receiving end. The bigger the audience, the better.

Natalie Whipple said...

I didn't have any desire to be published when I first started writing as a kid. It was something fun to do, something to take me away from this world and into another.

Even when I wrote my first whole book and started looking into how to get it published, I gave up really quick because it was overwhelming...and felt impossible. I actually felt the story didn't merit publishing, and I was okay with that.

And then I started writing my current WIP, which I know right now I will never give up on. The difference? I want to share this story. I am passionate about this story. I get excited just to tell people a little bit about it. That will keep me going this time, I know it.

Anonymous said...

I write, therefore I am.

I sell, therefore I eat.

'Nuff said.

Wes said...

I want to publish because a story needs to be told. In my case, it is the struggle of various cultures in the American Southwest under the failed colonial policies of Spain and Mexico, and how this area became part of the U.S. Most people only know American history east of the Alleghenies. Some of the same forces at work in the borderlands 200 years ago are still in force today.

Diane said...

Everyone has done a good job of touching on the why.
Anonymous at 9:17 also did by going a step further. Which is some of the why for me.

I love walking into bookstores and libraries. At your fingertips you have everything: all types of learning and knowledge, escape, love, new worlds. There is no limit to what you can experience. Oh I love the smell of books, too.

I look at my favorite authors and characters as old friends and can't wait to see what comes next in their series' or in their books.

I want to share that excitement with readers and want them to feel as I do.

ChadGramling said...

At some point, I came to the realization that I was a writer. It wasn’t when I created a class newspaper in fifth grade or when I would cut up magazines to produce my own. It wasn’t when I tried to win young author’s competitions in middle school or when I spent my study hall time writing stories. But at some point, I reflected on all those events and realized I was a writer. So I set a goal to one day see my name on the front of a book in a bookstore. It took me about twelve years, but when that happened, I knew I was in the right place. Now, I realize that too many parts of my days are spent thinking up storylines like it is how my brain was wired when I was created. Not a day goes by that I don’t consider new plotlines or rehash some that I had previously done. So I have to write to get it out of my head. Might as well seek publication for it so I can share it with others and hopefully one day make it into a full time career . . . so I can do more!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Why? Because I'm not any good at anything else and hubby might like to have help paying the bills. :)

I've had the 9 to 5 jobs, and hated them. When I sit at my computer for hours on end, I love it (and hate it -- stories aren't always easy). I love what I do. If someone will pay me to do it, that's simply incredible.

And, I have to admit, when I got the call from an editor saying I'd won a big contest and they loved my writing, it was the coolest feeling ever to know someone else LOVED what I wrote.

Finally, I simply refuse to give up.

Um, word verif: nutyz. ROFL. Yeah, guess I'm nutty. Or we're all nutties. :)

Anonymous said...

Why? . . . simply, I love to write, and people seem to enjoy it. It makes me happy, and it's all I ever want to do.

Perhaps cliche, but it's the whole idiom of following your dream. Creating characters and stories people can fall in love with; helping them escape just for that one moment in time, and if nothing else, helping yourself escape/broaden your imagination.

Ahhh, the sword-like quality of the pen. Or PC. ; )

David A. Todd said...

I write because I have a story to tell, and I want to be published because that is the best way for the most people to receive the story. Self-publishing is not an option due to costs.

However, since no pubisher wants a single story from a writer, I have expanded my vision to include other stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

However, since a platform now seems to be needed, I have expanded my vision to platform-building writing efforts. And I'm now getting tired.

Anne-Marie said...

Great question.

When I wrote my first novel, it was because I loved music and wanted to write a story with rock and roll in it and I hadn't found anyone out there who had done it in a way I enjoyed. So, in essence, I wrote that one for myself so I could have something to read that I loved. I want to publish it (and have continued to write) because that is the end of the road for creating something- you want to share it and hope that someone has the same reaction you did when you first read your own work.

Anonymous said...

I want my writing to inspire and touch others, as books have inspired and touched me.

Also, being a writer is fun, but being an author is entirely glamorous.

Sookie said...

I don’t like to write, but I love to have written. Writing is hard, rewriting is better, and finishing a book is awesome.

Most of all I want to make people laugh and cry, then laugh again.

Life’s hard and people need rest stops. I want to write a memorable rest stop.

Anonymous said...

Because that's where the readers are.

Unknown said...

I want to be an author. Not a writer who always regrets never succeeding, but a published author who was worked to make her product a viable, sellable work of art and literature.

C.R. Evers said...

I write. That's what I do. I can't imagine not writing and I want to continue to grow and increase my skills. Even if I never get published, I don't feel that I've wasted one single moment. Writing is a joy and my sanity. The point of publication is an honor that tells me that I've written something well enough to gain the respect of an editor and expectation of an audience.


Evangeline Holland said...

I seek publication for the same reasons any artist seeks a patron: to keep food on the table while I work. It is a job despite its creative faculties, and even though it is a choice I made, I don't see it as a volunteer position. *g* I do, however, see publication as a stepping stone to paying it forward and using my platform as a published author to shed light on issues that are otherwise ignored when spoken about by a "nobody."

Anonymous said...

I want people to read my book. That's what writing is for, I think--to share something. Yes, there's the magic of having produced something that falls into the same category of all the books we love holding and reading--to have done THAT! There's also, for me, the fact that a book isn't a book if it isn't being read.

Tyhitia Green said...

I write fiction and I want to be published because I want to entertain my readers and offer social commentary. :*)

Kristin Laughtin said...

I'm the type of person who always needs to be working towards something. I love creating stories, I love writing, and if my stories never get published, I'll be happy enough to have them finished on my computer. But when I read books and take away something--something that makes me smile or feel or think--I want to be able to do that for someone else, even if it's just one person. I want to be able to contribute something, even just entertainment, to someone else, even if I don't know it.

But why don't I just self-publish then? I guess in some ways I want the validation of being deemed good enough to get published by someone else. On some level, I want to be recognized as good at what I love to do.

Anonymous said...

1) Exchanging the book's ideas with others, getting feedback

2) The payday

3)Beats working

Anonymous said...

In my day jobs, I'm doing things for other people to basically help them succeed, which is fine because they are worthy causes and I do need to earn a living. But the books are my project where I am in complete control, where everything is up to me and how I apply myself, and where I control my own destiny.

Anonymous said...

Well, personally, I'm hoping for groupies.

KL Grady said...

It's threefold for me. I see publication as some sort of weird validation that what I have to share is worth sharing. At the same time, I adore books, love to read, and enjoy the hell out of stories. I want in on that as more than just a reader. I want to feel the love from both sides, as reader *and* as writer. And then there's the money. There might not be a lot of it for writers, but our (American, perhaps many others) society places a great deal of emphasis on money as an indicator of your contribution to society. If I want to write all day and feel like I'm earning my keep, I'd best publish and earn a paycheck, even though it's probably wee.

Anonymous said...

if we were chefs and we just threw out what we cooked, it would be a big waste. if a friend tasted it, that would be a step up, but the real validation comes when that friend wants to share what you've created.

whether my stories live in my head or on pages stuffed in the back of a drawer, it doesn't feel like i've really accomplished anything. the power comes from being shared and Mom reading the manuscript doesn't cut it for me. so, like someone said earlier, i need to feel like i'm striving for something, like there's an endpoint, especially when i've hit a tough scene or i'm plowing through the nth revision.

also, part of my relationship with books has always been a deep fascination/respect for the people who created them. i want to join their ranks. pure, natural ambition to "make it" in a field that's important to me.

Aimlesswriter said...

Wow, 64 comments. I think you touched a nerve here, Jessica.

I think I just feel its going to happen. And its not going to be an overnight thing but that's okay. My main goal is just to tell a damn good story. The rest will come.
Rejections are part of the game. Unless they have personal comments I generally just check them off the list and put them in the can. (a Mickey Mouse can-I save every one)A rejection is one person's opinion. No biggie. Move on.
When people ask about the book(s) I tell them its going fine. Nothing else. Some think publishing a book is a walk in the park. Other's think its unobtainable. I think its a learning process. If you work hard enough, open your mind to learn and never give up--it will come.

Elissa M said...

My money comes from painting pictures, so I don't seek publication for financial gain. I also get my ego stroked every time someone trades their hard earned cash for my work, so vanity doesn't drive me either. The truth is, getting published is a challenge, and a huge one. So I seek publication in an attempt to meet the challenge.

Spy Scribbler said...

I write for the readers. Publication is a means to that end, and to the end of putting a roof over my head. If I couldn't connect with readers that way, I'd do more performing. If not that way, I'd find a way to do it in other ways. I just have this drive to connect with people, to share ... something.

Writing is just the most fun manifestation of that drive. And writing has chased me more than I've pursued it, which makes me start believing all the gobbly-gook about the universe and stuff.

Anonymous said...

I shall cast a ditto with Amie Stuart who said she was "too damn stubborn to quit." Amen sister!
Once upon a time it was about seeing my name in print. Which I did. Then it was about reviews and speaking engagements. Which there were.
And while I do harbor secret hopes of this novel making a huge splash I realize it's no longer about the size of the wave. It's about that moment when novel and reader connect. When the thousands of black squiggles I fretted over, excised, reworked, grabbed from thin air and thickets of self-doubt make my reader smile and cry, make her reread a passage because something about it speaks to place deep within her spirit.
I believe in the power of a book to do all these things and more. Despite the brutal market and the rejections, the close calls and the long shots, bottom line is I'm in awe of the magic power words have over a reader. And so like Amie, I remain too damn stubborn to quit.

Barbara Martin said...

The characters, locations and theme I have created are somewhat different than those already published. Also, I can visualize the characters going through their trials and tribulations, while a reader accompanies them on their journeys, that they will be entertained and perhaps learn something about themselves that is reflected in the words.

My editor is high on my work and that's a good enough boost for me to keep trying to find an agent and a publisher.

Anonymous said...

How else do you get it out there so people you don't know can read it?

A book really isn't finished until the other part of the collaboration -- the reader -- has read it and brought their own experiences to it.

If I want more than just family and friends or the very few people who would buy a self-published novel to read what I write, getting published is the only game in town.

If you know of another game, I'd be glad to hear about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to post anon, because I really don't want to admit in public how stupid I am.

I have faith my work will sell. Yes, I realize how egotistical that is, but I have the story and I am willing to put the work into making it a quality product. And, if this one doesn't sell, there is another one in the wings.

In one of our last discussions, my husband complained because I was on the computer writing when he got home. It didn't matter that I had spent the previous fourteen hours laying tile. I was wasting time writing.

"Yeah, Misswannabewriter, you're going to sell a book and make a million."

I finally decided if I wasn't even allowed to write, then it was time to do something different. I walked away from a house my son and I spent six years building and my horses so I could write.

I don't want it to be for nothing, so now, I will do what it takes to get this work ready. If I put everything I have into this one and it doesn't find a home, then I do the next one the same way.

If I never sell anything, at least I gave my dream of being a writer a chance. Being published is my vindication for being stupid and chasing this dream.

Maria Zannini said...

How weird! I posted a similar question on my blog today.

For me, it's the journey. I love figuring things out, be it plot, character or world building.

I was interviewed recently and was asked what was the most important thing I learned about being a writer.

I said: Writing may be an art, but publishing is a business. As soon as I understood the difference, things started happening for me.

I treat my work as a job, a job I love.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:34 p.m.--

I don't think you're stupid.

Best of luck to you. Godspeed!

T. M. Hunter said...

Validation through more people than just friends and family...

Christie Craig said...

I'm a gambler at heart. I'm also stubborn, and don't understand the meaning of no. Oh, and I love proving people wrong.

Considering I've sold, I guess that gamble paid off. I recommend everyone who really loves writing, and who can stomach the rejection, to keep on keeping on.


ChristaCarol Jones said...

Why get it published? Everyone has their reasons, one of mine is to share the story, not in an egotistical way (assuming everyone wants to read my story), but in a way to pull the reader from their current reality, away from their every day stresses and troubles to enjoy living in someone else's shoes . . . living someone else's adventure.

I am currently in the 'discouraged' process myself. And I haven't even started submitting yet. It's a very hard business, and one I constantly find myself asking "Is it worth it? Should I keep going even though I may end up bald out of the process?"

But I love writing. Not just 'writing', but creating a story that's never been told and reeling in the reader. I don't know where my story will go, I don't know if it will get me an agent, or publication, or good or bad reviews. But I have to try. Even when I am sitting right now, brooding over whether or not my manuscript is worth more than the pile of stuff in my trashcan, I can't help but tell myself I've got to try. Otherwise, I'll never know.

If I get rejected, at least I know. And hey . . . there are always my friends and family if the story doesn't happen to reach the whole world. ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's a very interesting question, especially in my own case. I have a "day job" that is my real career, so I have no ambitions of becoming a full time writer for a living. And yet, I find myself drawn to writing stories, or rather, one story (a series).

What began as "I wonder if I could write a novel" has become more than that. Beyond the somewhat obvious answer of wanting to share something I've created with others, and hopefully entertain them, I almost feel like I owe it to my characters. The characters deserve to have their stories told, almost as if they really exist, because after so much time with them, they seem real to me.

Bonita Pate Davis said...

I think the quest for publication is motivated, in part, by the notion that publication is a validation of the writer's talent.

Sure, everyone wants to get paid. And some of us are seeking fame, or at least notariety.

But mostly, when we receive an acceptance and, finally, see our work in print, we think we've arrived. Someone besides ourselves and our significant others actually appreciates, understands, and even likes the end result of our labors.


JDuncan said...

Validation. Being published would mean that there are others out there who think my story is worth reading. Also, how cool would it be to walk into a bookstore and see that book with your name on it? Fabulous! Finally, the somewhat faint hope that I could make a living doing something creative that I just love doing. Who doesn't want that?


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for raising this question, Jessica.

I want to be published so my characters can leave home and introduce themselves to people I will never meet. I have chosen to be a career writer and as a result of that choice I work hard to write entertaining stories and accept payment for doing so.

Jinxie G said...

Quite simply... because the story needs to be told, and as my dear cousin says, and we're the ones who have to tell it.

I'm probably going to repeat what others have said in here, but I'm too tired to read through 80 comments. =p

Why publication? More people will read what you have to say. It does not matter to me whether they agree with what I have to say or not. The point is that they've read it, and they have an opinion on it. Much like your blog. If I make a little money writing, fine; if I don't, that's okay, too. It's more about the need to write and to have people read it. Publication is circulation, and I can't put an entire novel in a blog. LOL Well, I could, but it would be rather annoying to read it that way. My novels are on the web in their entirety, if one knows where to look.

What keeps a writer going after numerous rejections? One person at the beginning of this said it perfectly (ok, so I read a few comments): a million people might hate it and reject it, but if one person loves it enough to share with a friend, I think it would be worth it.

Yep, and that's what makes me smile and keeps me writing.

Anonymous said...

Because it's fun and interesting and a challenge. Also, it's nice to get paid.

Whenever I start feeling sick and tired of the whole thing, I just stop submitting work. After a while, once I've noticed that it makes no difference at all to the rest of my life (including writing), I decide I might as well lob a few things out there again.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6.34pm - I don't think you're stupid either.

My guess is that the grit and determination, the integrity and self-belief you've already shown will take you a long way.

Best of luck!


Anonymous said...

Anon 6:34 here.

Thank you, anons. I have to admit I ponder my sanity each month, when I try to pay bills. However, when a scene flows into place, there is a serious "aha" moment. Then I tell myself, this is why you did it, gal.

Unknown said...

Allow me to answer in the words of The Raconteurs:

"Grab hold and do not let go
And if you find yourself repeating
Some of those incoherent sounds
Just talking to yourself is cheating
You might as well stick your head in the ground"


Anonymous said...

It's a question I've been asking myself over the last couple years. Writing is hard, publishing is harder. I've published several novels with a good publisher, so why keep going? I think because it's validation... I'm challenging myself, pushing for a new level of skill and accomplishment, and in my mind, the validation for my success in that is a) publishing and b) seeing if readers enjoy my work.

Anonymous said...

My goal is to write the best books I can. If they turn out not to be what's selling right now, so be it. If they turn out to be total crap, well, as long as it's the best I can do, I can't complain.

But since I've written the damn things, I figure I might as well see if they can sell.

Anonymous said...

What keeps me going? Several things, the most pervasive of which is the fact that I've known with conviction since the third grade that this is what I am meant to do.

Anonymous said...

Personal validation. I always have believed I'm a good enough writer to have my name on the spine of a book in the bookstore or library, but until I actually DO, I have no proof of that.

As vain as it is, that's what I really want--proof that I'm good enough.

DJ said...

Good Heavens. What if we didn't? The thought of empty bookshelves terrifies me. *shudders*

Sandra Cormier said...

Most of us seek validation, no matter what we do. Sure, we tell everyone we don't care if our work sits under a bed or on a wall in our bathroom, but we really want to be appreciated and encouraged.

Setting the bar at a comfortable level is not a goal. We need external feedback in order to nudge that bar a little higher.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has said what I feel. I wanted to add that I'm writing a story that I would like to read and no one is writing them these days anymore. Hopefully a publisher will feel the same way.

Shelli said...

I've asked myself this question before, and I'm not sure I know the answer. I've tried to become more passionate about other jobs, but I can never succeed. I want to write. I want to get published. It often seems futile. But I've finally come to the point when I realize I'm just going to keep trying no matter what. I find joy in writing. I would love to publish to validate what I've felt I should be doing my whole life, but I know that might never happen.

By the way, I think this is the first time I've commented here. I found your blog recently, and I really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing all this great information.

Amie Stuart said...

Life’s hard and people need rest stops. I want to write a memorable rest stop.

Suki that is just lovely and oh and oh so poignant!

Amie Stuart said...

If I never sell anything, at least I gave my dream of being a writer a chance.

Anon 6:34 PM YOU are NOT STUPID! You gave me chills and yeah you made me cry. There is no failure in trying and I for one, fervently pray that you do succeed. I firmly believe that if you do what you love, the money will come. Best of luck to you hon!

Anonymous said...

I KNOW these will have been said, but why I seek publication?

Two reasons. The first is more "noble", and probably more egotistical, too. I believe I have stories worth sharing and that someone, somewhere, will benefit by reading them. (Nods head to theme and resonance and all the gushy book stuff.)

The other is more primal, on one hand, and more practical, on the other. I need to make money, and the thing I love doing above all else is writing. I will never stop writing, even if I don't become published, but it would certainly make my life easier if I could get paid for doing what I love.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:34 PM YOU are NOT STUPID! You gave me chills and yeah you made me cry. There is no failure in trying and I for one, fervently pray that you do succeed. I firmly believe that if you do what you love, the money will come. Best of luck to you hon!~

That's very sweet and didn't mean to make you sad. And, thank you. I do believe I will succeed.

If I don't, isn't it better to come to the end of your days, trying to attain your dreams than to never have dreamt?

Anonymous said...

ah - the black and white person in me has one answer - A paycheck.

I personally don't enjoy my current paying job (and I'm the boss so that makes it even worse-lol)

I like to write - I enjoy the process of writing a book as much as reading it - I want to know how it ends.

But I seek publication for the simple joy of earning a living at something I enjoy rather than something I have to do if I want to pay my mortgage.

Anonymous said...

For me it's very simple:

Non-fiction: income
Fiction: fame

As much as I'd love to be JK Rowling famous, I'll accept midlist writer fame. If it wasn't about fame (and hopefully income!) then I would self-publish my fiction (which I do my non-fiction).

Pat Brown said...

I feel a need to pursue publication (paid publication, mind you) partly because I think I'm worth it, plus I want to hear from others who have read my words and felt something. But for me the vindication comes from being paid to produce something of value.