July 14, 2019

What possesses us to take up a pen or a keyboard to put words on paper or screen? Why do we do it? I’ve been asked that question a time or two by well-intentioned friends or acquaintances and always felt they found my answer (“Because I enjoy writing.”) was somewhat less than satisfactory. Others, who perhaps did not know me as well, on hearing that I was writing a novel, would immediately ask, “Who’s your publisher?” as if publication could be the only reason to spend one’s time writing instead of working at a regular job or profession. I found this distressing.

And so, feeling coerced to seek legitimacy with those around me, I polished up a manuscript and self-published it (being unwilling to send my work to agents or small presses after poor experiences on both counts). Now I mostly don’t say much if folks learn that I’m a writer. And I am a writer. I have no qualms about calling myself that, self-published or not. I’ve written creatively on and off for the last thirty plus years and I have put pen to paper every day for the last three years since I found the freedom to write without interference from other activities (like a regular job).

If you think you want to write because you believe it will lead you to riches or celebrity, you might want to think again. Like realtors, insurance salespeople and young lawyers, only a small percentage of those who pursue a writing career manage to make any kind of living at it, and the number of writers who achieve fame and fortune is miniscule by comparison.

Writing to please a publisher, editor, agent, generous arts council or loved one will not, I submit, result in your best work – which is not to say that the result won’t be good. It simply may not be as good as it could be if you wrote to please yourself.

So write because it makes you happy to do so. I dislike hearing complaints from angst-ridden writers who moan and tear their hair over agonizing re-writes, abandoned manuscripts or writer’s block. Writing is the best job in the world. Like anything else, if you find it excessively painful or distressing, you ought to look for other ways to spend your time.

I have a website, a blog, I’m on Facebook and I self-publish because apparently these things suggest legitimacy. But I write because I love to write and for no other reason.


Thanking my wife

May 31, 2019

Unless your writing life is entirely hermitic, you likely have someone you can turn to for help and support. It may be a friend, a family member, an agent, editor, publisher, or a fellow writer. It must be someone you trust. In my case, my wife is critically important to the creation of my novels. I simply could not write or publish without her, she brings so many talents to the process.

From the moment an idea for a story takes root in my brain (which I then immediately discuss with her) she is intimately involved, offering thoughts and comments and ideas, some of which may get incorporated into the work. She has a well-developed imagination, and we have had many productive “what if” discussions. What if a character did this or that, what if the plot took this twist or that turn, what if I helped out more around the house? But I digress.

I will often read aloud to her the results of a day’s work. This has value because of her reactions to what I’ve written (as a future reader might react) and because hearing the words offers a different perspective on the examination of what I’ve done.

I write cursively (in a notebook with a fountain pen for anyone interested in that level of detail). I am a hopelessly inaccurate one finger hunt-and-pecker on a keyboard, but my wife claims she actually enjoys typing and I am keen to believe her. Could there be any happier coincidence?

After months of scratching away at the typed manuscript she enters the corrections and helps me to proofread the result. I abhor proofreading so any help I can get makes me happier than cancelling a visit to the dentist. When the manuscript is as clean as we can make it, she formats it for independent publication (uploading to Amazon, Kindle, etc.). She also designs the covers from scratch and does a beautiful and completely professional job. She tends to the promotion of the books on various websites and on social media.

All of these tasks she performs willingly and with great diligence. Everything she does involves the use of computers which I confess are beyond my near-Luddite levels of expertise. I can manage an email account and search for information on the internet, but my technological skills are then exhausted. If any thing goes wrong I’m left staring at my laptop with a crazed, near homicidal look on my face, and whining, “Honeeā€¦”

The most important and valuable thing she does for me is to provide moral and spiritual support. She believes in me and in what I write, and that is priceless.

This is Jenine, the lady in question.