Saturday, August 17, 2013

What's In It For You?

Writers frequently talk about why they write and the answer is usually the same.  We can't NOT write.  Sort of like we can't NOT breathe.  For some that means years of querying manuscripts that may never sit on a bookshelf.  For others it may mean breaking the top 100 best blogs on the internet.  And for many more it may mean your kid getting an A on every book report you secretly write for him.  If you're a writer, you must write.

I'm currently deep in the throes of Query Hell.  Or not, depending on what your view of hell is.  If it's anything close to the idea of you waiting in a line that extends into infinity just to get near the end and realize your line is only the one to get a ticket to stand in the even longer line next to you...then yeah.  You get me.

One of the agents I queried mentioned something on her website (or in an interview. Of course now I can't find it!) that I've thought about all week.  She said one of the first questions she asks a potential client is 'What do you hope to achieve from your writing?'

Do you want money?  It would be nice.  What about fame?  Not so much but I wouldn't turn down an interview with Oprah.  Do you want the satisfaction of seeing your book in a B&N so you can grab as many customers as possible to scream at them to buy your awesome debut novel that will change their lives forever before security hauls you out?  Ok, that's pretty close.

The best answer is another question.  You know that feeling you get when you finish the last page of a book that's made you laugh hysterically, love intensely, and then cry as if your heart is breaking?  The ones with characters that would have been your best friends if they were real, and feel like family even though they aren't?  Those books that take you away and return you just a little different than what you were before?

That's what it's about for me.  That's what I hope to achieve.  And it doesn't have to happen to millions of readers.  I'd settle for just a few.  Or even one.

And in the spirit inspired by those books I'd like to say thanks.

Thank you, Andrew Smith.  For Jack and Conner, Ryan Dean, and Joey, Troy and Tom, and all the rest.
Thank you, Stephen King.  For Roland, Jake, Eddie, and Susannah.  For every anti-hero who came through in the end.
Thank you, J.K. Rowling.  For Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  And even for Cedric Diggory who always looked like Edward in my head before the fangs and sparkles.
Thank you, Stephanie Meyer.  Yes, even you.  For Bella.  Because even if she needed serious relationship counseling, she showed us that persistence pays off in the end.

This list could get pretty big, and this post is already wayyy to long, so I'll stop there.  But it might be a good idea to take a minute and ask yourselves...what's in it for you?



  1. When I started it was to share my stories with others. In July (of this year) I finally got that opportunity. ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE & LION my debut Romance is available on Kindle. One favorite comment I've gotten from a reader was that it made them keep turning the page. As an author who wanted to reach readers and have them enjoy her stories as much as she enjoyed writing them, that means a lot.

    Best wishes on your query-ing! Hope you reach your personal goal soon. :-)

  2. Great post. Yeah, those writers who really know how to create characters you want to spend hours with are pretty special.

  3. Good luck querying. And good choices of authors to emulate.

  4. Sorry you're in Query Hell. I've been there. I'd describe it like you, except having little demons on either side of the line, stabbing you with pitchforks as you file past. Wishing you good luck in getting an agent. I'm crossing my fingers for you! :-)

  5. Yep, that pretty much describes hell for me, too. Which reminds me, I need to pull up my big girl panties and get back to querying. Good luck with yours. :hugs:

  6. Oh boy I don't miss query hell. But you mention something really important. We have to step back and think about what we want and what we're willing to do to get it. Somewhere in the back of every writer's mind they hope to achieve the bestseller list. But if we scale it down a bit, I'd say making readers feel something is enough. If we can do that, we're bound to make those bestseller lists at some point. :)

  7. It's just to share my work with the world. Neither of us ever expect to get rich off of this, so long as we can keep writing and keep entertaining people.

    As for query hell, I do hope you're still writing in the meanwhile. There's no excuse to stop writing and put your life on hold just because you're waiting for an agent or editor to get back to you.

  8. Hey Marsha,

    Long time no see. I’ve been away for a while. I’m not blogging yet unfortunately as it’s a bit difficult to, but I still remember my old favorite blogs :o)

    I like what you’ve written here as It makes me think. I too like books that make me feel something, and that’s what I hope to achieve with my novels. I actually want to educate as well as entertain. Entertain being the foremost because I write novels, and people buy to be entertained.

    One thing I’ve realized while writing is how HARD it is. Jeez. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything as hard as write my debut novel and try to get it published. Taking ages. It’s been taking a while. I hindsight I can see why, but it makes me want to make it all the better and more impactful for those who’ll read it. That means emotion, it means characters people can relate to. I think those are the best stories.



It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.