Saturday, July 24, 2010
To Give Up or Submit
I have been a writer for nearly 50 years and while I must have written several million words during that time, looking back I can see that all those words have had some pretty uneven results. Some days I really wanted to quit, on others, I just wanted to keep going to see what was around the next bend.
When I declared my intention to be a writer when I grew up – at the age of 39 – people told me it could not be done. They said I would starve. They said my work would not amount to a hill of beans. They did not believe a writer could make a living from his or her work.
I am here to tell you that is not exactly true. After I worked my way through college with the goal of becoming a famous writer; I went to work for a small-town daily newspaper and stayed on for five years, writing whole pages full of story five, six, and even seven days a week. I liked it. I loved meeting people and learning new things so I could explain them to our readers. In short, I submitted to the experience, and while I just barely made a living from the work, I would not have changed the experience for the world. I learned discipline and what a deadline means.
For the next several years I worked for non-profits and the lion's share of the work involved writing copy to get the organization noticed and to raise money for its very good cause. Technically, I suppose I was still writing for a living, but it about killed my soul. I won't however, say the experience was useless... it was very good for my creativity. For instance, how many ways can you think of to promote the sale of Christmas wreaths? See?
I had a calling, and writing historical fiction has always been my passion – a passion I submitted to, even during the long periods of time when I was writing for those non-profit organizations that sustained my life.
Today, I have published 16 books. Some are e-books and have been since the very earliest days of this art form. Others are in print and available at a variety of places on the Internet. My quarterly royalty checks will barely buy a week's groceries, but there seems to be nothing more to do than to just carry on.
I could give up, but after 50 years, I am still a writer and I am still writing. The way I see it, if I give up, failure is what I will get from a lifetime of experience.
I think I will keep going and keep writing. It keeps me on the sunny side. Terry