Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Whisperings in My Ear

I find myself wondering what keeps myself and my fellow unpublished writers motivated to continue writing in the face of editors telling us that only the likes of another Stephen King is likely to get published these days or agents who email rejections almost immediately upon receiving our queries.

I read the tweets of writers who rejoice at getting 250 words written the day before while another has a goal of writing 1200 words that day and still another laments a sick child and still another is depressed about having to go to work rather than being able to stay home and write. What motivates these people?

Is it the sheer joy of being able to create a world? To see that world taking shape every time we open that document? Or perhaps it is the ability to create a character, a person really, perhaps one we’d like to be. Maybe it’s the relationship we’ve created that allows us to escape a loveless marriage or partnership for an hour or two each day as our fingers fly across the computer’s keyboard and the idealized man or woman says all the things we wish we could hear in our “real” lives.

Is it the joy of having our characters “talk” to us every day telling us what to say and how they feel? Is it listening to conversations in our heads whilst we are in the shower and hoping we can remember them after we get out of the shower and dressed? Or is it finally knowing how to end the book because our character whispered it in our ear while we were supposed to be listening to someone else while sitting in a classroom or meeting room?

Perhaps it is noticing for the first time how a friend cocks his head to one side as he listens to you telling him your woes of yet another rejection from an agent and knowing your protagonist would do the exact same thing. Or is it hearing for the first time the train whistle in the far distance as it makes it way to its destination as it does every day at the same time?

Maybe it’s how your best friend raises one eyebrow as she listens to you update your story for her. And then laughing when you ask her to teach you how to raise an eyebrow so you know how your character feels when he or she does it in your book.

It may be sitting in a coffee house listening to the couple at a nearby table quietly argue and you pull out the ever-present notebook that you carry for just such times so you can write down what they’re saying. Or those two women in the booth talking about how a friend is suffering in the hospital from terminal cancer.

There are many things, I think, that motivate us to keep writing. Some large, like a kind word or two from an agent, some not so large. It doesn’t take much to keep us writing. Perhaps like myself, my fellow writers are amazed that we can write, that we have these voices whispering inside our heads, and that some day we’ll all be published.

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