Friday, November 12, 2004

The writing beast

A friend's email today was like a beacon shedding light on a dark horizon. She noted that we romance writers are pressuring ourselves to get published, publish more and keep publishing more more more more. Whatever happened to the craft of writing? She noted, “The only thing we can control as writers is the writing.”

Excellent point. Whatever did happen to the craft of writing? Are we romance writers these days too concerned about what’s selling, how to get published, pitch your work to an editor/line, how to network, how to sell MORE books, how to market yourself, that we’ve neglected the basics? What about quality over quantity? As writers, shouldn’t we strive to challenge ourselves, to draw from deep inside the well? If the market pushes us, always the market, the market like that nursery rhyme, then are we neglecting what really counts?

What drew us originally to write? If you had to give up writing, could you? Forget the quest to become published, or publish again, the money (what money, lol!!!), the drive to move up into a lead slot or make the LISTS. Just think of never, ever writing another scene, another paragraph, another word again.

Could you do it?

There’s a quote I have on my computer. It’s by George Orwell and reads, “"Writing... is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."

Cynical? Oh yes. True? Oh yes. Writing IS a horrible, exhausting struggle. It’s a beast that lays its claws into you, a demanding monster riding on your shoulder like a grim vulture. And yet, I could never relinquish my beast. Even amid the horrible torrents of self-doubt. Even when the nagging critic whispers into my brain and says, “Hey? You know that paragraph you wrote? A monkey sitting at a computer could have written better. No, a one-armed monkey could have written better.”

The only thing we can control as writers is the writing. We are driven by the mad monster endlessly lashing us onward, the grinning demon that will not release its powerful grip. And amid the madness, pain and struggles, we find kernels of joy, like secret, buried treasure winking at us in the sun.

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