Wednesday, 6 July 2011

There is Nothing quite as wonderful as Money, Money, Money

One of my friends is completely and utterly baffled at the fact that I don't want to write for a living.

Now, a lot of my friends don't believe most of the things I say, for their own reasons--usually because they can't wrap their head around what I'm saying. I don't begrudge them that, by the way; I can't fathom some of the things they're talking about either. But why do we have to turn everything we love into a moneymaker?

I don't want to write to get published. I never did. I don't write to inform people, or to persuade them. I don't write to churn out the next Great American Novel, or New York Times bestseller, or international sensation. I don't write to be controversial or edgy, or to make people think deep philosophical things.
If I do those things, that's a great side effect. If you do, good for you. But that's not why I write.

I write to entertain. That's all I've ever done. All I want to do is tell a good story--or even a bad one. If people like it, it doesn't really matter, does it?

Now, I'm just going to come out and say it. I've had a really hard time writing lately. Haven't written a thing in months, in fact. Why? Long story. I'll try to sum it up.

It's incredibly pathetic, but I got broken. In the past, I've forgotten why I write; just every now and then I'd stop and go, "wait, this isn't fun anymore. Why am I doing this, again?" And I'd think, and I'd remember why. And I've been trying to cling to that. Then I made the mistake of taking some people more seriously than I should have, and I convinced myself that their goals were what I should have been after, and made them my goals. Did this negatively affect my writing? You bet your ass it did. For a while there I just threw up my hands and gave up writing altogether, because the stories I wanted to tell just didn't work for the new goals.

I lost my love for writing, and in forgetting why I write I lost a part of my soul. And it hurts. It hurts something terrible, because I haven't gotten that love back yet. I'm remembering my goal and trying to keep it close, but the passion's been broken and it's going to be difficult to get back. It's not something that just magically returns when someone admits "just write the story the way you want to," or when they say "but that story's great, you should finish it!"

This is why I decided, years and years ago, that I didn't want to turn writing into my career. I love it too much to turn it into a career. If I turn that into a money making endeavor, then I'm going to have to be constantly writing, constantly researching, constantly marketing myself and trawling the freelance markets for pittance just to stay afloat so I can finish writing my novels. Writing doesn't pay well unless you hit it big, or constantly whore yourself out, and I knew I wasn't going to strike gold the first time and I didn't want to do the latter.

And what I feared came to pass. I stressed out about my writing and became so obsessed with twisting and warping this story I had loved into something that the mainstream market would accept and pay me for that I stopped loving to write.

Some people can write for a living. If you can, good for you. But I can't.

I just love it too much.

1 comment:

  1. I actually had something kind of like this happen to me, albeit for drastically different reasons. It happened almost ten years ago, actually (which means, all of a sudden, I'm feeling my age). I was 17 at the time, and I was heavily involved with the Invisible Man Virtual Season. It hasn't updated in several years, but it's still online. (The site looks drastically different, now; they got someone else to webmaster after I dropped out at the end of season 3.)

    Just so you understand what I mean when I say I was heavily involved, I mean that I was running the website and helping to edit pretty much every single story that got put out during the VS3. I was the principle writer for three stories and the secondary writer, whether listed or unlisted, of several more. (My username was liz_Z at the time--silly, I know, but again, I was 17. My mom actually picked it for me when she set up my first e-mail address when I was 12 and I kept using it for years out of habit.) The end result was that I often ended up putting in what amounted to 40 hours a week into a project that I absolutely loved but was not getting paid for. Also, because we worked collaboratively to come up with all of the plots for the series (we wanted to make sure everything tied in with everything else appropriately, and had someone set up specifically to watch out for canon violations), several of the stories I ended up working on were not ones I was personally invested in.

    The story that broke me was the Christmas episode, 'Tis the Season. I had a secondary writer (most of us did), but the secondary writer's job was simply to write a few scenes here and there and take some of the burden off the primary writer, whose job was to write the main body of the story and maintain the overall tone of the story. I just... couldn't find my rhythm. Nothing I wrote sounded right to me. I kept pushing myself, trying to work through my issues with the story, and I hit my breaking point about halfway through. I had to stop. I took a two-week break, which resulted in the site going on a brief hiatus, and then forced myself to pick it back up again. I finished out the story, I kept editing, I kept writing. But the passion was gone.

    The saddest part was that, when I got to the story idea that had been mine and I'd been lucky enough to get assigned to be the primary writer on, I honestly didn't care anymore. I didn't try to make it better. I just wrote it to get it over with. And that's saying something, because I always try to make my work better. When the VS3 ended, I opted out of the VS4. I wrote a few more fanfics here and there, but nothing really kept my interest. It wasn't long before I wrote my farewell fic and 'walked off into the sunset', as it were.

    Now, my passion for writing did eventually return. I was about 20 at that point, and finally had the courage to start attempting to produce original works. And, despite the fact that the I-Man VS was definitely a mixed experience for me, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I learned a great deal, that year, both about writing and editing. It's one of the experiences that helped to shape me. It was rough, and it may have thrown me off for awhile, but in the end it helped me to graduate to bigger and better things, and I honestly believe I would not be as good a writer today if I had not done that.

    I'm not really sure what the point of all this rambling is, aside from the fact that I understand where you're coming from with regards to burn-out. But I felt like I should write this out, so I did.