I remembered something today that made me wonder why I'm pursuing publication: I wrote for fun. I wrote for the joy of making people laugh, making people worry, making people gasp in shock or squee with delight at something I made happen. My first attempts at writing fiction (in the last decade) started about five years ago. On an impulse to try something new, I began writing fanfic.
It was for my own amusement in the beginning. I was waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out (Half Blood Prince) and had been directed to a fanfic website by Mugglenet.com. I saw so many stories, and I wanted to see what I could come up with as well. It was great fun. I'd post a chapter, people would read it, they'd leave comments about their favorite parts or try to guess what was going to happen next. There was real interaction there, and I miss that.
I love to make people laugh. I would frantically write out long chapters in long hand during the day, then type them up and post them as fast as I could. Sometimes I wrote three chapters a week (which was about 20,000 words). I had such fire then, such a burning desire to entertain my readers and give them the next piece of the puzzle, the next clue, the next heartbreaking event.
I look back at that work now and I cringe. I've learned so much on my writing journey, I can hardly stand to look at the amateur gibberish I posted. But my readers loved it, weirdly. I miss them. I was led astray by their encouragement to write my own work, to try to get published.
And I realized today my attempt to be published has been selfishly motivated. It became about me and my desire to prove to myself I was 'worthy' or something. But I was happiest when I was writing my nutty stories and getting the joy of a reader's reaction immediately. I used to post a chapter then hover over my email for an hour, just waiting to see what the next comment would be.
Writing a novel isn't like that, is it? You work countless hours on a story and only friends, family, beta readers, alpha readers, or your critique group ever see it. If it's not worth publishing, it gets shelved. It seems like such a waste. You hold on to the hope that maybe someday, if everything goes right and works out, you might get an agent who will read it and maybe try to sub it as well as the work that interested them. Or they might tell you it's a lost cause and to move on to something new.
I don't know what I want, I guess. I would like to make money doing something I enjoy instead of something I hate. But more than that, I want to entertain people. It's what I do. I was never after fame and fortune. I'd be happy with a caricature of me on the back of my books, to be honest. I've seen authors say they dread book signings and being involved in publicity, but to me that'd be the most fun. I've been a vendor at fantasy and comic conventions and it's a hoot to interact with people.
I'm not giving up. Not by a long shot. But today I've been thinking long and hard about when I'm the happiest with my writing, and it's when I know immediately I've made other people smile or even laugh a little.
Not with this post, obviously. I'm sort of the Eeyore of blogging today.
What do you like most about writing? Think back to when you first started writing. What motivated you? What kept you going? What made it the most fun?