Posted by Mary Marvella | 4:17 PM | 2 comments »

This appeared in the June 2006 Galley, the newsletter of Georgia Romance Writers.

What Keeps Me Writing?

What keeps me writing? The same thing that keeps me going, and going, and going no matter what.

The universe has so many stars and planets, we can't count them all. New heavenly bodies appear as old ones disappear. Stories and characters fill my imagination and demand their time on paper. They want their stories told and I am sometimes their slave and sometimes their mistress. After all, if I don't write their stories, no one will hear them.

And they won't give me any in peace.

When life throws me a curveball or knocks me on my ample butt, writing is my salvation. Through the loss of my parents and the death of my dream of a life partner with whom I would grow old, I wrote (the death of the dream, not the ex-partner). The writing wasn't always great but it was there.

I love words. I love what they can do for me when I use them to tell a story, or allow a character to come to life, or deal with feelings through those of my characters.

If you're ready to hang it up or wondering why you're still writing when you've collected more rejections than you have hairs on your head and contest judges hate your writing, consider this.

Why did you start writing? If it was because you thought you'd make a living as a writer, what I have to say might not help.

Learning about writing and writing to sell can steal your joy. Incorperate what you learn to make your writing better, but don't let it make writing a chore. That doesn't mean you shouldn't hope to sell your work. After all if you sell your stories, people can read them. Selling validates your writing, as does winning contests. It also validates the time you spend writing and attending conferences or putting money on equipment and supplies.

Sometimes you need to write for the fun of it. You can go on to the second draft and add the elements you didn't get in the first draft. With each draft you can play with the words and edit your work to make people laugh, or cry, or do both. If I feel with a character, I will keep reading.

Keep in mind what you want your reader to feel so you can manipulate the way you use words and sentences, the way you present a scene or a character. Use your life experiences and the books you've read to make me feel something. Not every reader will respond the same way, that includes editors and agents and contest judges. So? You don't like every book you read or every character in them. Someone did or you wouldn't be reading the book.

When an editor or agent sends your book or proposal back and tells you your baby is ugly and you dress her funny, (or other words to that effect.), whine and fume. After you give in to your disappointment that another person doesn't love your book and everything about it, look at the comments, if there are any.

Maybe the kid's beauty would shine through if you clean her face and comb her hair. Maybe the mismatched socks aren't helping her win the beauty pageant. Maybe the judge can't see you baby's beautiful eyes because of the glasses. Or maybe her glasses and mismatched clothes are part of her personality and charm. Maybe you sent her to the wrong pageant, or contest, or agent, or editor. Maybe she just isn't ready to go out into the world yet. Hug her and tell her you love her, then see what you can do to help her make someone fall in love with her.

Remember, we don't always understand why people fall in love with each other or why some readers don't like the books we love or our favorite foods. Someone will love your story and your characters.

I have seven completed novels and have been rejected by the best. I'm working on book eight. I can't stop telling my stories and neither should you.


  1. Beth Trissel // November 3, 2007 at 3:24 PM  

    Wonderfully wise and uplifting post for those of us on this infernal quest!

  2. Mary Marvella // November 4, 2007 at 4:52 PM  

    Thanks, Beth. I'm either too stubborn or too foolish to quit.