What Keeps Me Writing?

Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:48 AM | | 20 comments »

What keeps me writing? The same thing that keeps me going, and going, and going. When I'm not selling cosmetics and skincare products or tutoring, I write fiction. I can't help myself.

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 curve ball 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.

20 comments

  1. Pamela Vee // June 6, 2010 at 12:05 PM  

    I must confess that I did start writing because of money. Now, it's because I love it. It brings so much joy into my life. My characters are real. The emotional connections I have to them is as strong as any living being. I actually love them. I talk to them, listen to their dreams. Help them to heal old wounds. And in return they make my life a little more special and meaningful.

  2. Mary Marvella // June 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

    Thanks, Pamela! Reading and writing offer me escapes from the world. As a kid I played make believe, or "play like" which was what we called it. I usually made up the stories for us. One day we'll both have our huge fan base!

  3. Mary Ricksen // June 6, 2010 at 7:16 PM  

    I only started to write because I needed to fill a void in my life. When I stopped working I stopped seeing new people and interacting, while sometimes making new friends.
    I always wrote, but now I joined my local chapter and started to network. That is how it started for me. That is what I love. The self pride, the new friends, the old friends, the feeling of accomplishment, that I am a worthy person.
    I love to write, it's an escape and so much more!!
    You will get there, sometimes, it's a fluke. Maybe if you went on the cruise in January? Lots of agents and editors and appointments. Although it's even better to meet them as they sing karaoke!

  4. Nightingale // June 6, 2010 at 7:33 PM  

    I carried the dream of a life partner too. I've recently given up on that dream. But I still write, hoping that someone else will like the people and their lives I describe on paper. You're right on target as usual, MM

  5. Judy // June 6, 2010 at 9:02 PM  

    Bravo, Mary! With each rejection something is learned. Storytelling doesn't stop because of it...it changes shape and becomes better. Sometimes the rejections can be debilitating, but a true storyteller, like you,keeps on letting those stories come through for the joy of it and someday you'll have a broader audience for them than you might imagine!

  6. Mona Risk // June 6, 2010 at 9:09 PM  

    I always wrote. I mean I wrote my first story at nine. The one I remember. My father was a writer with about twenty books of literature published and used by his students. When I was a small child, he encouraged me to write daily and describe my day at school and my thoughts.

    Later I took an early retirement, to share my special adventures in different places. Now writing is soothing me. It helps me cope with stress. It helps heal my stomach ulcer better than medication.

  7. Mary Marvella // June 6, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

    Mary R, my writing friends are the ones I've kept the longest. I always felt a kinship with them. (You know who you are.) They get it!

    I do love conferences! I meet the coolest folks at them.

  8. Mary Marvella // June 6, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

    Thanks, Sister Linda! I love your characters and your way with words.

  9. Joanne // June 6, 2010 at 9:40 PM  

    Mary,
    I'm sure your stories are beautiful. Sooner or later, they will find a good home. Like you, I love to read, and I love to write.

  10. Mary Marvella // June 6, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

    Thanks, Judy! I'll share my audience if you'll share yours. I'm feeling generous tonight.

  11. Mary Marvella // June 6, 2010 at 9:57 PM  

    Hey, Mona, you came by yours honestly! I'm glad you did. Keep writing, my friend. Your daddy was a good teacher, it seems.

  12. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 6, 2010 at 10:18 PM  

    MM, it takes a kindred spirit to understand why we must write. We have no choice, we simply must.

  13. Mary Marvella // June 6, 2010 at 10:41 PM  

    See? We writers get it in a way none else can, except maybe another artist. We're sharing parts of ourselves! Our characters and stories come from inside us.

  14. Barbara Monajem // June 7, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

    Yay, Mary! I always wrote stories. For me, writing is a great alternative to worrying about whatever else is going on.

  15. Mary Marvella // June 7, 2010 at 1:12 PM  

    Yes! Barbara, writing occupies my mind in ways reading can't always. I determine the levels of violence or sensuality or sweetness and light. (snickering and rubbing hands in unholy glee)

  16. Beth Trissel // June 7, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

    Terrific post, Mary M. I keep writing because it's what I do. :)

  17. Cyrano // June 8, 2010 at 9:06 AM  

    I write because I love it, need to, and dream about it.
    I write for myself mostly, but I confess, I can't wait to see my name on the spine of a book one day, either in a book store, or on line!
    Great motivational post momma Mary!
    Have a nice morning,
    Baby chic, AKA Tamara

  18. Mary Marvella // June 8, 2010 at 4:17 PM  

    Hey, Beth, I just read your post for today, Tuesday, an you are indeed a writer. Girl, your prose is like poetry.

  19. Mary Marvella // June 8, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

    Ah, Tamara, (Baby Chick) I remember when Pam, Connie, and I corrupted you. You've come a long way. I'm so glad we found your competitive streak. Your creative streak stood out on its own.

    Mama Mary (Mama Hen)

  20. Autumn Jordon // June 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

    Good for you, Mary and good advice. It is so easy to get caught up in the business side of this business that we forget the joy that made us start our journey.

    I think I'll remember the joy today. WINK.

    (((HUGS)) and thanks.