August 07, 2010

Why Do We Write?



The market for westerns is soft. That means editors aren't buying many. A group of western writers I interface with have been talking about this with several saying they weren't sure they wanted to try to write them any more. Keep in mind this group has bibliographies up well in the hundreds. The discussion has been enlightening. One writer summed up the thoughts of many when he said:

"Now I don't know about the rest of this crowd, but I for one write for the love of writing. And I write westerns for the love of the American west. I write for the love of Bob Steele and Hoot Gibson and Randolph Scott and John Wayne, those people who birthed my imagination back when a bent stick could be a blazing six-gun and my old dog a faithful steed. I write, I suppose, because I've never really grown up."

I love westerns too, always have. I haven't tried to write traditional westerns because I came to the party late and I knew it. I've had some small success in writing some in the time period for the Christian market, and I'm trying to reach out to some new readers of the old west with a YA series. That's a tough sell too.

But is that why I write? No, that's why I have written in that time period, for the love of it. The long answer of why I write is on my website, under the writing testimony link. The short answer to why I do what writing I still do, and my efforts to help other writers get their words out is very simple. After much soul-searching and foot-dragging, I believe God has asked me to do it, and until I am relieved from one or both tasks I'll continue to do it.

Some write to achieve recognition, some for financial gain, some because they have words on their heart and nothing will do but to get them out. A secular writer who doesn't sell books well up in the five figures does not impress the mainstream publishing industry. A Christian writer who makes only a single sale but that sale changes someone's life would be considered a success. Having said that, I don't know a single Christian writer (including myself) who only wants a single sale. We all want to get our words in as many hands as possible, and sales is how we measure how well we are doing that. I write out of love and obedience . . .

. . . why do you write?

3 comments:

A man called Valance said...

Why write? For fulfilment, and maybe a little piece of immortality, so I can feel like I counted for something.

Vickie McDonough said...

I write to be obedient to God, because I feel this is what He has for me at this time in my life.

I love Christian romances set in the Old West. How do you feel those are doing? Are they slacking off like true westerns?

Stephen Bly said...

I write because the stories in my head demand to be set free. Once the gate is open, they stampede out into the world to reach even the remotest corners of a reader's mind. If there were no stories, I could not be a writer. I'd just be an over-trained English student with nothing to say...sitting in an espresso lounge and calling it writer's block.