Mark Terry

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Enjoying The Process - All of It

May 4, 2011
Yesterday I read a blog post by former literary agent and author Nathan Bransford in which is comments that he doesn't actually enjoy the process of writing, but enjoys having written. 

It's a common enough statement by writers and my reaction is almost always, "Then why in hell would you bother?" Because, you know, this isn't a job with a lot of benefits, much stability, any guarantee of great (or even good) pay, etc. So if you don't actually like writing...

I love the process of writing. Fiction, nonfiction, almost anything. Some I like better than others, of course, but the process of turning thoughts into words ... love it.

Editing. Pretty much the same. Love it. Maybe not as much as writing, but still...

Nonfiction publishing. For the most part, I really like it. Won't go so far as to say love, because it's a funky business and it has its built-in headaches, but yeah, I really like it.

Fiction publishing. Mmmm, not so much for a lot of reasons.

Marketing. Uh, for nonfiction it's just part of the game, getting gigs. There's nothing much fun about it, but I've routinized it enough that it's just something I do. Looking for publishers for fiction, in theory part of that has moved over to my agent, but it's not a process I like much, mostly because it's such a crapshoot. Marketing to readers ...

Let's come right out and say it. I love people who have plunked down their money and read my books. Even if they ended up hating them, well, okay, I'm sorry, but thanks anyway. And if you enjoyed them, hey, thanks very much. I'm grateful and pleased. I even like meeting readers, for the most part. I'm not the most gregarious guy in social situations, and frankly, put me in a crowded room with a lot of background noise like at a book conference and I can barely hear a word anyone's saying, so my blank look of mild interest doesn't mean you're boring me, it means all I'm hearing is "mmmm waaah mmmm" and I'm smiling and nodding and hoping I'm not agreeing that I should pick up a gun and shoot your mother.

But finding readers, marketing fiction to find readers ... no, not my favorite part of the writing process. John D. MacDonald famously said that being a writer was like dropping a feather down a well. Huh. That was before Facebook, Twitter, blogs and the Internet.

I would argue at times that the act of marketing fiction to readers is a lot like taking a bucket of water and throwing it into the ocean in hopes that someone finds your bucket of water.

Anyway. I think we should try to enjoy the process - all of it. Or at least as much of it as we can. And I'm still flummoxed by folks who don't actually like the process of writing who want to be writers. Man, find a different hobby.



Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I think you think like me in this regard. I love the process of writing. Always have. I love making up stories and twiddling with words. Why anyone who doesn't like the process would write, I have no idea, given the small amount of money it usually earns and the unliklihood of significant success measured in real world terms. If you don't like the process there are endless smarter ways to spend your time. I suppose there are many people who just want to *be* authors. Who knows why.

As for everything after the process...well, okay when I was younger I enjoyed seeing my by-line and the first time I saw a book with my name on it and my writing (and Mary's of course) inside that was neat. But once you've reached those milestones it isn't the same thrilling experience ever again. At least not for me. And marketing, or dealing with the publishing industry...those things are enough to put me off writing. If I allow myself to think of that sort of stuff when I'm trying to write it can take all the joy out of the process for me. And yet, part of the fun of writing is trying to communicate with an audience and fiction usually won't have an audience without a publisher, so the publishing and marketing are, in their own way, necessary to my enjoyment of the process. A conundrum.

Now if I could reach enough readers by self-publishing, that would be ideal. I have always self-published essays and other amateur nonfiction (mini-comics, computer text adventures) with great enjoyment because there are venues where you can find a readership for such things.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

it does sound like you and I are pretty much on the same page and probably for similar reasons. If I think too much about publication for fiction, the whole process grinds to a halt. I was far more productive as a fiction writer when I was trying to break in because every novel was a potential blockbuster. I don't feel that way now.

10:40 AM  

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