Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Do You Want?

Back to my usually scheduled writing-related posts.  Rebecca had a post about what she wants out of her writing, which is to be a successful YA career novelist.  This makes me step back and think what I want out of this whole thing.  What is my ultimate goal in writing?  

I think I may be in the minority here.  I don't want to be a career novelist.  As in, I don't want it to be the source of food on the table, roof over my head, money for my retirement.  The very idea makes me uncomfortable.  I'm getting a degree in history, and hopefully going on to work in the law.  That's what I want to do.  I'm very practical.  I'm getting an education in these areas because I intend to use it.  I did not fight my parents for months on end to get a degree in history only to end up throwing it away for writing.  I love my major.  I love the track I'm on now.

I've written for years on things I knew would never see the light of day.  It didn't bother me.  I was fine and dandy writing fanfiction, and I suspect if I'm not published, I'd be fine and dandy doing it still.  But I don't want it to be my job.  Because I like it being a sort of...extremely passionate hobby.  When you make your hobby your job, it invariably changes.  There's no getting around it. You look at it differently.  You have to think about whether your next novel sells, because if it doesn't, you won't get a paycheck.  You're on a hardcore timeline for when you need to turn out drafts.  And you have all day to write.

All day to write.  Does that sound cool to you?  It sounds cool for about three days.  When I have an infinite amount of time to write, you know how long it takes for me to turn out a chapter?  An infinite amount of time.  If I have two hours, you know how long it takes?  Two hours.  Don't ask me why.  Maybe I have psychological time-management issues.  But that's the way it is. That's why it's so hard for me to get my butt in gear in the summer.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I want to get published.  I want to continue publishing lots and lots of books.  I want to have a NYT bestseller (it's a blatant lie if you're a writer, and you can't admit in the secret, darkest corners of your ambitious heart that you want to hit a bestseller list of some sort).  I want to be good, and I take it seriously.  I'm trying super hard to be good and improve.  I want to be see my name in print before I die.

However, there are a lot of things I want to do before I die.  Get married, have kids, go to an Ivy League school, live in Seattle, go to Europe, Australia, go parachuting, you know.  Publication is just another goal on that list.  A big goal, highlighed and underlined in red, but just another goal, nonetheless.  

Even if I don't ever get published, I'll continue to write.  I write because I love it.  If I don't get published, I'll still love writing.  If you don't become a professional book reviewer, will you stop reading?  Same idea.

It's interesting to see what different people want out of their writing.  It's important to know what you want, regardless.  Have you thought about this lately?


  1. Great post! My goal is to be published and to continue to publish books. A little extra money would be nice, but I'm definitely not expecting to support my family on books alone.

    I love that you write for the love of writing. If someone told me that I'd never be published no matter how hard I tried, I'm just not sure I'd keep writing. I'd probably maintain the blog, but I'm not sure I'd be able to write another novel.

  2. I'd love to support myself by publishing novels, but I know it's just not feasible to have that as your only career, unless you get lucky right off the bat. I love writing, which is why I decided to study journalism so I could support myself with my writing.

    I'd definitely like to have a novel published sometime in my life though, and a best seller would be epic.

  3. O di immortales! :) That's exactly what I'm planning on doing- majoring in history and then going to law school (hopefully at William and Mary). Then I want to practice law, get married, raise a family, see Europe, maybe live in England for a year or two, and perhaps even be a politician. (I'm ambitious yes?) And then I figure I can write on the side. As a hobby. When the kids are napping. On Saturdays. You know, whenever I can take a break.
    Glad to see someone is like me! :)
    And yeah getting published has never been my goal. I just want to be satisfied with a piece. And I like to bring some joy to my friend. 'Cause I always share my writing with my best friends.

  4. Me, if someone said I'd never get published, I'd still keep writing.

    I write because my characters' stories are clear and loud in my head. I am chasing the dcateam of publication, I would love to be able to write all day and live off my novels. That is the ultimate goal, for other people to read my work, to let them have some escapism when life is hard.

  5. Funny. When I read Rebecca's post, I agreed with everything she said. When I read your post, I also agreed with everything you said. Darn. Now I have to *think* about this...

  6. Well, to me, it's only important that you know what you want out of it. If you want to be a career novelist, great! If you want to write on the side, great! If you just write because it's a hobby, that's great too.

    Annabeth16Chase - We're twins! Except on the politician part. I love politics, but I would hate to be a politician. Or marry a politician. Plus, you're brave for showing your writing to your friends. It's easier for me to let anonymous interwebby people see my stuff. I'm always scared my friends won't like anything I write!

    Yunaleska - Well said.

  7. Indeed we are twins! Yeah, I just figure I canhelp lots of people through politics.
    And well I only show it to my two best friends. One of them---well, she's at camp right now and she sent me a letter yesterday. In it she said "Send me anything you've written so I can tell you how amazing i is, because your writing is always amazing." I mean: blind faith?
    And my other best friend...he's always complimentary and always finds the good, but he also isn't so afraid to critisize, which is very good.
    I certainly enjoy seeing your fanfiction! :)

  8. Great post! I like how you point out that there's more to life than simply being published. Being published is good, but it's only one of many delightful experiences a person can have. :D