Monday, February 27, 2006

Why keep writing?

Okay, my life isn't turned upside-down, but our attempts to sell our Massachusetts house and move to New Mexico have added a distraction. Several completed, unpublished novels languish on my hard drive, and my drive to complete my current tale has flagged of late. It's easy to get discouraged in the current publishing market, with ever greater numbers of writers chasing agents.

So why keep writing? Well, for me it's the challenge of putting my reluctant brain to work. It's the association and friendships formed with like-minded souls. It's the ego massage that results from seeing my work in print. Once a co-worker showed me what he called a great magazine article and asked if I had seen it. "I wrote it," I said, pointing to my byline. Then he went around the office, bragging for me. An inflated ego and a nice check too--how much better can life get? And yes, the occasional check is nice.

A couple of useful bromides: The key to finishing a novel is "ass in chair," according (possibly) to the most excellent Lawrence Block. And it's easier to fix a bad page than a blank one (source unknown).

Not long ago, I set a modest goal of writing 500 new words of fiction daily, and actually met or exceeded that quota for about a month. Now my enthusiasm for that novel has waned, which I hope is a temporary malady. Maybe the best approach is to just sit down and do it, just as one would treat a job.

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