Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Pep Rally

Good morning everyone, I hope you have all had a good week.

I'm posting this even earlier this week, at 16.41 on Thursday afternoon to be precise, because I have a cold and am anticipating an early night with a lempsip. (Rock and Roll).

Last week we talked about the darker side of life so this week let us take a turn on the sunny side. Recently I read a statistic that stated only 10% of writers earn more than £10,000 a year. Combine that with the fact that out of the thousands of books that are written only hundreds are published, and that of the hundreds that are published only tens are selected for front of store promotions and that of those tens of books only a few will go on to be bestsellers (bear with me this is getting more cheerful soon.) Then why do we write? Why do all of us racers, not to mention several million more keep writing in the face of such odds? Its certainly not for world fame or enormous fortune which visits but a few.

I think it might be because essentially we are optimists (which directly flies in the face of my post last week but I don't care, I'm whacked up on Lemsip.) The most important thing I ever did as a writer was to stop thinking about writing a book and actually start writing one. Certainly nothing can be achieved by not writing where as possibly, maybe, with a lot of hard work, nerves of steel, a good deal of optimism and not to mention some luck, an awful lot can be achieved by writing.

So in my brain-addled-stuffed-up-cold-ridden way, I'm asking you what keeps you going in the wee small hours of the night, when all you want to do is to give up and become a cruise ship singer?(or whatever) What's your own personal pep talk?

29 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

I write in the hope that somebody will like my rubbish enough to publish it. I never expect to be rich, but I'd like someone I didn't know to enjoy reading my work.

Sarah*G* said...

Great question Rowan. I too am full of cold so not sure I would be able to stop by tomorrow. Think I will be hiding under my duvet or watching Harry Potter dvds!
Anyway, on the the question...
I keep telling myself that my current day job may be absolute pants but at night and the weekend I can do something that I like to do and something that I think I am actually quite good at. (In my own unbiased opinion of course!) If, sorry I mean when, I finish this book/novel it actually gets published then that will be a bonus as I am just happy to be doing it and that is the most important thing to me. The fact that I am happy and I am enjoying it. I see loads of documents at my work that people send in and so many people cannot write even basic English. The fact that I think I have the ability to be able to string enough words together to make a book is something to be proud of. So many letters come into my work addressed to the 'Magastrats' or say they have 'bin looking for wurk' or other bad spelling and grammar.
There are a lot of things I have to do that are not through my own choice but I am personally choosing to write. Why coose to do something in your spare time on a regular basis that you don't like? That is why I quit the gym! haha. I know I won't be the next JK Rowling or make shedloads of money through my writing or be on the bestsellers list but that is not my ultimate goal. I want to write something that I am proud of, that my kids are proud of. Being published would be fabulous though!!
Plus I have been moaning about wanting to write for ages so now I am actually doing it it is great. Does that make sense?

CTaylor said...

I write because I can't stop (and yes, I know that sounds naff) and, no matter how depressed I get about writing sometimes (quite often) I get such a huge thrill when someone enjoys my work (or, even better, publishes it). I write because I'm practising for the day that I actually manage to get down my thoughts on life/love/confusion/being human in a semi-coherent way that will make other people think, "Oh my god, I feel like that too." I want to make a connection with my readers in the same way that other writers have touched me.

I also want (and this might sound a bit egomaniacal) to 'leave something behind' when I finally kick the bucket. Every time I get something published I feel an immense pleasure that I'm building up a stack of stories for my future kids to read, to remember me, to get to know me a bit better. And maybe their kids too (told you it was egomaniacal).

Unfortunately, however, I often fail to string a coherent sentence together. A bit like this comment really!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Good morning, everyone; I hope the poor coldy people get better soon.

I haven't reached the point of needing a pep talk yet. I write because I love it, I enjoy the process, the way I'm always learning something new. For sure, sometimes it's hard, and then I just think about how satisfying it is when I've made it through a hard bit, and that keeps me going.

And, yes, doing the writing. On which subject, I started novel 2 on Monday, my aim is 1000 words/day five days/week, and I've done 5015 words this week, so I'm feeling very pleased with myself - again!

(Apologies for smugness. No further news from agents, if that helps. ;-))

Helen said...

I too write because if I don't I feel anxious and crabby. It is my release and the fact I may some day make some money from it is a bonus.

However, saying that, if I ever need a pep talk I just think about Eminem's lyric's to Lose Yourself (not a fan at all but love this song for when I'm in the gym).

"You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo"

Kate said...

My reasons for writing depend on my mood, really. They include:
- I love words, and the process of picking the right one, or the right image that truly sums up a situation or a person.
- I love ideas even more than words: the strange alchemy of observations or insights with a story and a 'what if' scenario. Ideas excite me: I want to make them real, make them live outside my head.
- I love reading, and the idea of creating those magical transportation devices – books! – is still very exciting for me.
- Writing has made me saner: I used to get the blues (still, perhaps, have that weakness) but writing novels has helped to take me out of myself, even though one would imagine that sitting at a laptop all day making stuff up would do the total opposite.
- And now, astonishingly, it is also my main day job so I have to write to get paid. That’s my reason on the days when it feels like more of a pain than a pleasure. Deadlines must be met. I think that’s been the shift from writing as a hobby to writing as a career (though, given Rowan’s figures, it is a precarious one): it is no longer the escape from reality, it is the reality. Most of the time that’s blissful but like all jobs it can feel like climbing a mountain in your flipflops and that’s when deadlines (and writing friends, and Novelracing etc) helps me keep aiming for the summit...

Rowan Coleman said...

I am loving these comments! Kate I'm with you one hundred percrent, writing pays my bills too and I feel so privileged that I am in a position to make my dream job my day job, particularly when I read that scary statistic. Knowing that is what spurs me on with my writing and its one of my main motivations. Still there's always that cold hard possibility that in a couple years we'll be skint and I'll be singing on cruise ships to make ends meet (if only I could sing!) Still it keeps you on you toes, that's for sure!

Flowerpot said...

I agree with what's been said so far. I feel as if someone's cut my arms or legs off if I'm not writing. I dont know what to do with myself. Whenever I get an article published it is an affirmation of what I am doing. I have to keep going. I can't stop and don't want to. Even when the going gets very tough.

Lazy Perfectionista said...

I write because I love it. If I'm not loving it, I do something else, usually read, which reminds me that I really do love it, and it gets me back on track.

Juliette M said...

After reading all the original post, I am not sure why I do. It all strikes me as rather pointless if we are never going to get anywhere.

But I am very cold and feel lousy and am wearing a hat and scarf indoors so that may be something to do with that. Or possibly the fact I have not written anything since we moved into the new house as everything is all boxed up and my desk is flatpacked.

Why do I write?
Because I can't not.

What keeps me going?
Remembering that I have spent the past ten years in random admin jobs rather than furthering a proper career, because the actual career I want is writing, and planning to eventually go on and do a Ph D or lecture on writing at universities; and if I am now deciding to quit writing, then that was a complete waste of ten years.

Oh I am a happy little squirrel today and no mistake. Sorry about that.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Nothing exciting or particularly positive. I write because it is an addiction. If I try to stop I get withdrawal symptoms - sweats, shakes, nightmares, and all the attendant foul temper and bad behavior. For the sake of my loved ones, I keep going.

Lane said...

I write because I enjoy it. I also write because I believe that if you've got a flair for something (as we all have) then it's up to you to develop it. Life's to short for 'if onlys'. (A cliche yes, but so many people waste their talent).
What keeps me going is the hope, no - belief that someday, someone, somewhere will say cor, that's not bad you know and my name will be on the cover of that book.

Kate said...

My reasons for writing are basically what Kate said:


- I love words, and the process of picking the right one, or the right image that truly sums up a situation or a person.
- I love ideas even more than words: the strange alchemy of observations or insights with a story and a 'what if' scenario. Ideas excite me: I want to make them real, make them live outside my head.
- I love reading, and the idea of creating those magical transportation devices – books! – is still very exciting for me.


I'm pretty lazy so the actual writing out the words is a bit of a chore for me, but to keep me going all I have to think about is the fact that I have to get up in the morning to work in a job that I dont care one little bit about.

I dont expect to make a mint from writing, but I'd love to get by enough to quit my day job.

ChrisH said...

Good idea, Rowan and very interesting comments, Leatherdykeuk - I'm someone you don't know and I really enjoy your writing!
Helen - yes I'm up for a bit of 'Lose yourself' too!

And like anyone who's said it here, I write because I have too - without it I don't feel like me - this week has been pants because I've had to do stuff that stops you getting kicked out the family and I've really missed my work. (Ho Hum! What a dreary goody-goody that makes me sound.

Kate.Kingsley said...

I write because I have always known, ever since I was little, that this was what I would do. Sure, there've been the odd few (hundred) diversions along the way, but a few years ago I woke up & realised that I don't want to get to 97 and regret never haing fulfilled my ambition / destiny to write.

So I suppose I write because I'm scared of what will happen (or more likely not happen) if I don't.

Kate K

sheepish said...

Hello everyone, sorry I missed last week but basically I'm having a bit of a down time at the moment and I can't get very enthusiastic about anything. I am probably just a bit under the weather and will be better soon. I'm not normally like this so ignore me till I start behaving properly again. In the meantime hope you are all being more productive than me.

liz fenwick said...

Hope you feel beeter soon Sheepish and all though with cold and flu.

Why do I write? A complusion, I think. I love creating a world and enjoying living in that world. I guess I may be an escapist at heart. I love creating something on a page and some times that isn't words but paintings...

I'm rambling because I can't focus because I am logging in quickly from London with ds1 and I have a request for more August Rock from email submission I did a few weeks ago......They want three chapters???? Didn't think that would happen even though I had sub to two more agents this week. Miracles never cease.

have a good weekend all.

CC Devine said...

Hi All,

I'd love to join the Novel Racers and am unsure how to go about it. Are the instructions on Kate's blog out of date or should I be posting a message on her blog rather than here?

Thanks,

CC

Rowan Coleman said...

Hey Liz, promising news! Lets hope something comes of it. Also, correct me if I am wrong but I think that Liz is the gal to anser your question CC.
Rx

Fiona said...

I write because nothing else puts me in the zone the way writing does.

Can't type any more as I have to cross all my fingers for Liz:)

A. Writer said...

To be honest I don't know what keeps me writing. I enjoy it I suppose, I've wanted to write in some form since leaving high school (Did journalism at college).

I keep going because I want to write a novel that can affect people the way that books I've read affect me. I want to make people laugh, cry and feel that reading my book can give them the escapism they are looking for in their own lives.

ChrisH said...

Liz, brilliant news - good luck!

Helen Shearer said...

Hello again. Has it been a week already?

I'm not sure why I write. I've always just done it. I like sitting at the desk or a table in a cafe and scrawling down ideas. I suppose it also has something to do with the fact that I can say things through a character that I could never say in life. My character can tell her boss to sod off and I won't get fired for it. I have to admit that, even though none of us do this for the money or the promise of money, in the back of my mind I'm always dreaming about eventually making my living as a writer. It seems like a lifestyle I could get used to. Yesterday, when I was schlepping my arse off to work in the middle of a snowstorm at half seven a.m., rolling out of bed, making tea and sitting at my desk seemed like a much more civilised way to pay the bills.

Maddy said...

Glad to hear that you're admitting to being inconsistent - flip flopping back and forth between optimism and pessimism seems a much healthier option.

I've only been blogging a year so I don't know if I have anything useful to add to the above, other than that for me, it's a form of personal [cheap] therapy.
Best wishes and hope you're on the mend.
Cheers

hesitant scribe said...

Hi All... "I'm late gain" is becoming my mantra! Sorry.

So many great comments here, but I'm with ctalylor all the way on this one.

My own personal pep talk at the moment is, "better crack on because life is short," and the body is notorious for going wrong, and you can't do an awful lot with a disembodied mind!

Being so ill has also made me question what matters in my life, and writing finds itself up there neck-a-neck with family and friends... I want to leave something behind, as ctaylor said. Something finished too, not just 30 odd years worth of confused note-books and half-written stories!

JJ said...

Hi all, I'm sorry I'm late too.

I need to create - either making art or writing: one or the other seems to do it. I think it's about sorting out things I can't otherwise sort out, so I suppose that makes it a kind of therapy.

I've said before I'm not sure it's about getting published. I've watched how my confidence has grown over the last year writing articles, and I'm hoping that that will happen with fiction too. Just doing it has given me faith in my process. But I don't have that yet with my novel.

But it makes me happy. I think it's also because I'm constantly learning. I seem to go a bit off the wall when I stagnate: need to learn, need to learn...

JJx

Rowan Coleman said...

Thanks for all your comments over my couple of weeks of hosting coffee morning. I have been reading many of your blogs this week and am resolved that I must do better. One a week from now on!

KeVin K. said...

"...what keeps you going in the wee small hours of the night...?"

Bills.

wordtryst said...

I agree with most of the above. It's the one thing I've always wanted to do, and I get a real sense of fulfilment and accomplishment from writing.

My agent was the first one to give me unbiased feedback, and when she called and said she loved my novel, and that everyone at the agency did too, I was walking on air for weeks, and my heart was racing, literally, for days.

That's why I do it. And I'd love to get to the point where it's actually paying bills, Kevin. Such bliss...