Friday, January 23, 2009

The Goal

Let me ask you something.

If you're a writer, do you ever think you're just plain crazy for researching obscure facts, digging into archives, interviewing people, or searching through endless websites, all for your work-in-progress that might never see the light of day?

I thought that last night. I've thought it before.

Here I was, reading a history book relevant to my novel, absorbing all these facts, bombarded with all these wonderful ideas on how I can use these facts in my story, when suddenly, I asked myself, what if I'm doing all of this for nothing? What if the novel is never published? What if I toil and sweat over getting all these facts right, plus everything else you have to get right to create a good book, and it never, ever gets into anyone's hands but mine?

Well. Guess there's a few ways to look at that. Number one, I've increased my knowledge in a certain subject area and that's always a good thing. Number two, I'm doing two things that I love - research and writing. So really, it's a win-win situation.

BUT...

There's more to it than that.

Sometimes, I really do feel a bit foolish working on something that I want published but have no guarantee that it will be published. Does that make sense? And yes, I know that I'm doing what I love and that should be enough...BUT, it's not. My goal is to be a published novelist and I want this current WIP to be published.

My goal is not to finish it, print it out, hold it in my hands with a burst of pride, then promptly shove it into a drawer and start the next one. No. I want to share it with others. I want to bring joy and hope and encouragement to my readers. I want my story to transport them to another time and place. I want what I say to touch other people's lives - not just my own.

If that's crazy, then yeah, call me crazy. I'll wear the badge with pride.

Care to join me?

20 comments:

  1. Every thing you do to support your writing, every fact you uncover, every paragraph you write, comes in useful, even if it's not in the piece for which you originally found it.

    The goal to be published only becomes crazy if you're not willing to work towards it, if you expect to be "discovered" without putting in the art, the craft, and the work. As long as you take action towards your goal, there's nothing crazy about it.

    Yes, it means giving up things in other areas of your life and prioritizing so that writing is high on the list, but if you want it badly enough, you do what it takes to accomplish your goal.

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  2. You are not crazy. You impress me with your drive and I am jealous that I do not have that same drive for my book.
    I know you will reach your goal--even if it means tons of rewrites etc. With the work you are putting in--you'll make it and I want to be one of the first to read it!

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  3. I'm always impressed with writers like you that do all that research. If you love doing that, then go for it! Yes, the ultimate goal is to get it published, but if you enjoy the journey as well, then let yourself enjoy it. And it will happen!

    I don't have to do much research in my writing...it's more character driven and modern day so my research can pretty much be Googled. And right now I'm writing about a mother and her obnoxious mouthy teenage daughter, so I have all the source data I need just sharing a bathroom every morning. :)

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  4. Amen, sista! It's not crazy at all. And I think it takes this kind of "attitude" or thinking to persevere. Seriously. You keep at it!

    One thing I want to mention... though you're one who (like me) wants every correct from the get-go... go easy on yourself. Part of editors' job is to catch details and make sure all the facts add up. :)

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  5. I meant to say I'm guessing you're one like me, with wanting everything correct the first go round... Didn't mean to be presumptuous...

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  6. Well, I'll call you crazy...but it has nothing to do with your writing. LOL

    As a writer, you should write every word as if it is going to be published. Whether it is an email or a blog post or a novel. Putting such care into your words is what sets you apart from those who are not serious.

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  7. I know exactly what you mean, Melissa. People ask 'are you writing today?' and I kind of look at them funny. 'Well, I'm home aren't I?' But then I wonder who cares if I put in hours at the keyboard?

    My characters are alive and I want others to know them.

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  8. Congrats on that word count bar's zooming up! Don't dismiss the smaller publishing houses when you start querying. Your determination and hard work motivate this slacker. :)

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  9. I've been wearing one of those 'crazy' badges for years!

    I admire writers who research obscure facts. I do as well, just not to the extent someone would who writes historical, etc.

    Have a great weekend :)

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  10. Well if that's crazy, then I'm crazy too.

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  11. Devon - Since I know that you practrice what you preach, I also know that this is great advice. Thanks. :-)

    Terri - Aw, thanks for your vote of confidence! It means a lot. :-)

    Sharla - I often wonder if I'll ever write a book that doesn't require all this research...anything is possible, I suppose. Hehe.

    Janna - Good advice. I can get very upset if my details aren't right. I just KNOW there will be a person out there who reads my manuscript and will point out a tiny error!

    Rene - Yeah, I freely admit I'm a crazy person all around. Ha!

    Toni - Yep. I want others to know my characters, too.

    Holly - Hope you have a great weekend, too!

    Debs - Welcome to the club. :-)

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  12. No, I don't think I'm (or you) are crazy for doing something like that. In fact, I pride myself on being a fount of useless information (I'm brutal at Trivial Pursuit, and I daydream of going to NYC and getting a ride in the Cash Cab --oh yeah, baby! ROFL).

    I'd collect weird little nuggets of information even if the writing never amounts to anything, simply because I love learning new things. It's good for the brain. :D

    I just hope my computer and library records never get siezed by the cops. I'd go straight to jail, no trial necessary! LOL!

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  13. I am totally with you on this one. We work and we strive and we struggle and we re-write and then we start all over again... and we hope that someday it gets published and people will love it.

    I satisfy myself by saying that... if all is said and done and no one wants to publish it, at the end of the day I will still be able to say that I wrote a book--or two or more. Not everyone can say that and I am extremely proud of it.

    You've got to start somewhere, right?

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  14. Jenn - You're absolutely right. Writing and finishing a book is something to be proud of, indeed. :-)

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  15. Jen - Do you find that any of that "useless" info creeps into your story? I bet you might be able to use it quite a bit.

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  16. LOL! Well... my username is "spyscribbler," because four years ago I decided to write a spy thriller. I LOVED the research. I would POUR over the books. No nonfiction, in my entire life, has ever fascinated me so much!

    I spent six months researching about 2-6 hours a day. It was great.

    But I never wrote a spy novel. I'm not sure what I think of that, LOL. I don't exactly regret it. I do wish I'd actually written a spy novel, although it doesn't look real promising that I will. Maybe!

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  17. Melissa -- yes, it sometimes does creep into the story. I've even had it kick start a story or two as well.

    You never know what might be useful! :)

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  18. The doubts show you're NOT crazy. I've had the exact same conversations with myself, many, many times. Especially after I went from full-time to part-time work in order to write (before I was published. Now that's insane.

    But I was doing everything I needed to do to attain the goal. And I loved what I was doing. So I just kept going.

    I'd love to say that I resolved those doubts, but I never did. I mostly just shove them into a dusty corner and try not to look. It works.

    Keep going.

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  19. I had a similar drive, Melissa. I believe the research I found strengthened my resolve in the story and my determination to finish -- and sell. Onward, sister!

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  20. Every bit of research is useful. Without it, there's no way the work will be published.

    I'm not a lover of research, mainly because I go off on tangents all the time, and I'm thankful I don't have to do much. As my books are contemporary, I can do most of it on the internet. Also, as they're set in my home town, I can go for a walk. :o)

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