Saturday, August 31, 2013

Random Thoughts on Writing -- Why I Write


I'm popping in here between my How I Became A Writer guest blogger posts to share some of my own thoughts on this whole process of writing and becoming published. I've been at this now for a little over nine years and have sixteen books published, a story in one anthology, a novella scheduled for release in November, two more books under contract and one ready for self-publication in the spring. Whew! I've finaled four times for an EPIC eBook Award and won the fourth time with Love, Sam. I've been named Author of the Year once (2010) at Champagne Books. I'm not blowing my horn here but, rather, summarizing for myself what the past nine years have rendered.


I began writing women's fiction because it was a genre I had begun to read after many years of just not reading for pleasure. I'd gotten away from books, put my energy into music and then into graduate school. Who had the time to read for pleasure? But one day I picked up a novel by Elizabeth Berg. And I was hooked. I eventually ventured into writing romance, as well. (I'm a romantic at heart, as I've learned.) Having read every book by Berg, I then searched out other women's fiction writers and some romance and mystery/suspense authors--Sherryl Woods, Elin Hilderbrand, Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, Kris Radish, Claire Cook, Karen Robards, Nancy Thayer... Well, the list goes on and on. 

I wanted to do for readers what these authors did for me. They entertained, captivated, tugged on my emotions, made me think and, mostly, introduced me to characters who seemed real and engaging. For a long time, I wanted to write. I finally began to talk about wanting to write. One day I was sitting in the counseling office I'd established for a non-profit in Mississippi bemoaning the fact that my clients had either canceled or simply decided not to bother showing up. In fairness, it was an unusually warm and sunny January day in the mid-south. I didn't blame them. My friend and co-worker, Shari, encouraged me to, "Go to your office and write that book you keep talking about." (I think she may have just wanted me out of her office because, unlike me, she did have work to do.)

I sat down and, not knowing where to begin, thought up a title: And The Truth Will Set You Free. The rest, as they say, is history. Owning that truth--that I wanted to write a book--and taking a leap of faith to actually do it opened flood gates. Images filled my head, words poured out, and characters took shape. That experience, taking that risk, that leap of faith in myself, changed me. I've felt passion in my life for several things. But never the passion I feel for writing. It's my life's breath.

Now, seeing those sixteen published novels might cause one to think, "Wow, she's made it. And the money must be rolling in." Um...no. Here's the fact: Relatively unknown authors who publish with small, independent presses aren't rolling in money or in fame. Some are able to pay the rent and others buy a latte with their royalties. So why do we do this? Why do we sit for hours, alone with a computer and open a vein to let our life's blood pour out onto the page--or the screen, as it were? Because we can't NOT do it. Sure we might believe that big break is just around the corner, that next book that will take us onto the New York Times Bestseller List. But that's not why most of us continue to write. 

We write because we have stories in us to be told, characters only we can bring to life. We write because, at some point, some moment, a reader will be touched by what we write. My first book got good reviews. It finaled for an EPIC eBook Award. But the one thing that meant so much to me that it brought me to tears was an email from a reader that said, "Thank you for writing this book. I recently lost my job and went into a depression. Reading Kate's story, even though I know it's fiction, helped me to not feel so alone and to look past the loss to where I go from here."

Sure, royalty checks are nice. But notes from readers, notes like this one, are what make it all worthwhile.

If you're a reader, let your favorite authors know what their writing means to you. And if you're an author and get notes from your readers, respond, thank them for taking the time to appreciate your work.





Happy reading--and writing!

Linda

To read excerpts and reviews and for links to my books, visit my website at www.lindarettstatt.com

Thanks.

4 comments:

Judi Romaine said...

Excellent synthesis of why write? Nice to see all your successes laid out as well. You've definitely crossed the bridge long ago from writer to author.

Krista Ames said...

What a great post Linda, I really enjoyed reading that!

Holly Gilliatt said...

Loved hearing your take on why you started writing & why you continue. Which reminds me...I have several of your books on my TBR list! Can't wait to read them and congrats on all of your success. :)

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I think wrote this as much for myself as for anyone else. Sometimes we need a reminder of why we do what we do. That the rewards often come in different ways.