Middle Grade Monday
Why do You Write?
Keeping the Big Picture in Sight
By Natalie Bright
So, why do you write?
I don’t mean the reasons that we hear most people repeat: they want an agent to get a big publisher for a big book deal and a big movie deal so they’ll make major bucks and then retire to their massive beach front property. I honestly don’t believe that’s motivation enough to put oneself through the endless torture of trying to write. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life.
What about the gutt-wrenching, down in your soul reason you’ve never told anyone, ever. If everything suddenly went to ePublishing and all books were free and there was no way whatsoever that you could ever make money writing, would you still write? I’d like to think that most of you would, because you haven’t lost sight of the big picture.
The Big Picture: Story, Story, Story
Story is the reason. It’s the oldest form of human entertainment. Down through the ages, “tell me a story” has brought countless generations together. From the time we were youngsters, we remember stories that spoke to us and left their imprint in our brains or hearts. Agents, editors, publishers, book packagers, book stores, book buyers and now the ePublishing world all gravitate around a need for quality work. It’s all about story.
Who Holds the Key
Writers are the key to this process. The successful writers I know are continuously learning and improving upon the craft, and they have a zillion ideas in their head, just not enough hours in the day.
Falling in Love with Your Work
It saddens me to meet writers who have lost sight of the big picture. They have talent, amazing ideas that I’d be thrilled to see as a book, and they are very capable, yet they’ve very much attached to their work and remain steadfast to argue and justify instead of moving forward.
I understand that you may not agree with others opinions. That’s okay. In the end, remember that it’s your work and you can write it however you want. I’ve discovered that most writers and editors and agents tend to be very generous people. They enjoy helping others reach their dreams.
When someone says “I have this story”, my first instinct is elation. I want to grab it up, I want to read your story, I want to love your work, and I want to help you make it better. People who work in publishing have never lost sight of the big picture and know that there’s always a better word or phrase. There’s always a better way to tell the tale.
So Why Be Snarky?
Here’s a thought; don’t submit your story to a critique group, editors or agents if you don’t want to know what’s wrong. Don’t waste other people’s time by asking for advice that you never have any intention of following. It’s okay to be completely and absolutely in love with your work. Treasure it, keep it safe in a beautifully padded box, but don’t make copies and don’t ask me to read it.
Honest opinions are golden in this business, so why do writers waste their creative energy fuming and fussing over opinions when they’ve solicited said opinions? Let me repeat, in the end, it’s your work and you can write it however you want.
Listen, Learn, Find the Magic
For me, once I was able to really hear the feedback without argument and move past the fear of chopping off the fish head or rewriting parts that didn’t fit, then I understood even more about the writing process.
The story will take over and empower you and you’ll know why you write.
My hope is that you’ll realize you write because you want your story to be the best that it can be, and it will entertain, teach, touch a heart, or make a life-long impression on a reader. And you’ll know when it’s ready.
In short, the big picture of this maddening process: you write because there’s a story burning deep in the core of your being, and no one can tell it like you.