I'm a member of many online writing groups, and a very large indie publisher, so I get a barrage of writing-related questions throughout the week. Most of them are questions I like to answer: setting, dialogue, world-building, the perks of writing details in fiction, etc. I get a lot of joy from thinking about those questions. I think those are the questions of writers who are geeks. They are passionate about their story, unapologetic about wanting to make it as real and fleshed out as possible. I just love that.
After all, I am the type of person who turns off the music in her car when driving alone so that I can make up dialogue out loud. To save my children's reputation, I bob my head and pretend I'm singing. I'm not singing, if you see me. I'm talking to myself, and to my characters. Yes, I'm having a conversation in my car with people who are physically there. And I do it a lot. But my geeky actions are my own. My children might yet end up normal. Probably not, but maybe.
So, writing is something I do even when I'm not putting a pen to notebook or fingers to a keyboard. I don't mind taking a break to think about other people's writing, to read books for inspiration. Because in the end, those things help me become a better writer and they bring me joy. I love thinking about that stuff, and I would do it no matter what. It's not just a hobby. It is my "bliss," as the kids are saying these days. Or at least I heard someone young say it, so that counts.
But, more often than not, I get questions about writing that make me want to throw up a little. These often fall into the marketing area. Some examples are: 1) How do you make yourself write? 2) What happens if you're not selling a lot of books? What are your strategies for selling those books? 3) How do you market your books? 4) How do you juggle life and still keep in the practice of writing? 5) What is your Amazon rating?
Here's the thing. I get that we want to make money writing. I get that we want it to be a valid career and that with hard work it can, eventually, become a career. Some people make money writing books. But not most people. Most people just really want to. And hordes of people want to become famous for their writing: the next New York Times Bestseller. That's fine. It would be nice if I made more money from my writing. But I don't like answering questions about that. Because I don't go out of my way to make money as a writer. I know that sounds stupid to writers who are serious about making money writing. But I don't write to make money. I am very realistic about the fact that I might never be able to make a living wage from my work. And I'm fine with that.
Because that first and last question about how I find time to write baffles me. I LOVE WRITING. Since I was four years old, I wanted to make stories into books. The main thing I did for fun as a kid, teen and young adult was write things and read things. It has always brought me joy. I write when I'm not doing anything else. I'm thinking about writing when I am doing other things. And I share that passion with my kids and any stray person who is unfortunate enough to ask me about writing.
I know this will annoy a lot of people, but I don't get writer's block. Sometimes I get lazy, and I work on something that doesn't have a deadline instead of the work that does. But I don't stop having ideas for writing. I have about seven stories in the works and I enjoy writing them all, for different reasons. And I work on them, here and there, whenever an idea strikes me to move the story.
And an idea strikes me every day. I write because I love to write. I write because I would do it whether I got paid or not. That doesn't mean I don't get frustrated when people won't just spend .99 on my latest short story, which took me weeks to perfect. That's annoying. Just buy the fucking thing. It's super entertaining. It's at least as entertaining as .99.
I enjoy this writing thing. I will share my work with avid readers and other geeks, and I will patiently wait for people to appreciate it. Maybe, one day, my stories will resonate with a larger, paying audience. But I'm going to keep writing no matter what because it's not a job to me. It's my joy. So, yes, I market a little to share my work with the masses, but most of my marketing centers around continuing to write and entertaining people.
So if you want to know, writers, how I force myself to write when you find it so abhorrent, I have a question for you:
You know you don't have to write, right?
I do have to. It is what makes me get past the bad days. If you don't like it, don't do it. There are a lot of occupations in this world, so find your joy.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.