My Thoughts: What motivates me to write?

I want to still be on the front lines when somebody develops a formula that can actually lead to book sales in this publishing morass.

I NEVER THOUGHT much about it until recently. But why do common, ordinary people – many with loads of talent – decide to sit down one day and write a book?

I knew why I wrote.

I love writing.

I’ve written all of my life.

I am obsessed in the morning to get up and keep writing until the day ends.

It’s an addiction.

I can either write or dig ditches.

I can’t do anything in between.

And I love to tell stories.

But that’s me.

But why do others write?

During the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time attending writer organizations, writer conferences, and casting my words before the mercy of critique groups.

Writers talk.

And I listen.

Some write books because they love the prestige of being able to tell their friends or family that they are genuine novelists.

It has a nice ring to it.

It feeds the ego.

They have books on Amazon, and that makes them special.

Some say they write and don’t care if they ever sell a book or not.

It’s a challenge.

It’s a hobby.

It’s something they always wanted to do.

So they scatter words and feel better about themselves because they do.

Some tell me they write because they want to leave their personal story behind for their children and grandchildren.

Makes sense.

We grow up.

And one day, after our parents are gone, we wake up and wish we had access to all of those little stories that made their lives worth living.

We don’t know what they are.

The stories are adrift in the great unknown, and we’ll never know what they were.

So we write memoirs or family histories just to make sure that those who follow us aren’t left as far back in the dark as we were.

Personally, I’ve always written to make a living: newspapers, magazines, travel books, historical books, custom books for corporations and retailers, motion pictures, and finally, I’m knee-deep novels.

Over the years I’ve sold a lot of books.

I’ve been with agents.

I’ve been with the big boys like Random House and Berkeley.

I’ve been with small publishers like Eakin and White Bird.

I’ve self-published.

And I know it’s much more difficult to sell books than it once was.

The publishing landscape is confusing, convoluted, and unpredictable.

There are no absolutes.

Some writers catch lightning in a bottle.

Some can’t find the lightning.

Some don’t have a bottle.

But I keep writing.

I want to still be on the front lines when somebody develops a formula that can actually lead to book sales within this publishing morass.

I’m probably a fool.

That’s all right.

I’ve been one before.

But I’m convinced that somebody will figure it out.

Only one thing is certain and guaranteed.

You will never sell a book if you don’t write one.

This article was taken from my book on writing: Whodunit? The Adverb Looks Guilty. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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  • Maryann Miller

    Love the article, Caleb. It sums up why many of us are in this wacky writing game. The closing statement is also a powerful message to writers to NEVER give up. Happy writing!

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