Chasing Words

What motivates me to write? And in this fast paced, information overloaded world we live in – why do so many of us want to get published?

I was asked these questions this week and to my surprise I didn’t have a quick answer.   I am a writer.  It’s what I do.  Although these statements are inherently true, I was at a loss to explain why I am constantly driven back to the page.  To be honest my inability to answer bothered me, and I’ve spent the past few days mulling it over.

Why do I feel compelled to write?

At an elemental level I think I want to be heard.

A few weeks ago someone asked me if any of the characters in my novel were based on me.  I was quick to say no (not much call for someone who would curl up like a hedgehog at the first sign of danger) – and yet the whole novel at some level is about me.  How I see the world, and how I’m trying to understand it.  My characters may live in a fantasy realm, but at the heart of it, the things they wrestle with are common to us all.

My WIP, The Fall of the Kings, is essentially about how people cling to their version of the truth – often to the detriment of themselves and others.  What drives people has always intrigued me – and in this story I get to play it out on a grand scale with some pretty impressive consequences.  At one level it’s an entertaining story – on another I’m asking the reader to take a deeper look at something close to my heart.

The other reason is that I love words.  Like some people love chocolate.  There’s just something about a well crafted sentence, or a story…

How do I know I’ve got it right?

Honestly I don’t, but there are ways of checking.  Do the words resonate on the page?  Do they nail my purpose and draw me in?  If I can make myself laugh or cry, I’m fairly sure it’s going well.

And then of course there’s reader feedback. Do they understand what I’m trying to say?  Am I making myself clear?  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want everyone to love what I write.  An impossible task, I know.   What might touch one person might leave another cold.  But as a writer I’m so invested in the work, it’s not always easy to keep that in persepective.

Today the first 500 words of The Fall of the Kings is being critiqued on Aimee Salter’s blog Seeking the Write Life.  I am both thrilled and terrified.  But I am hoping the comments will help me see how it comes across to someone who doesn’t live and breathe the story.

Why this need for Publication?

If we are truly storytellers – we need a forum to tell our stories.  Publication in any form is a vehicle for doing that.  Maybe there is an element of affirmation too, and possibly a wild hope that there might be some financial reward for all our labour of love.

I have no bent either way when it comes to the traditional or self-publishing route.   I just want to write the best book I can, and to give it the best chance of reaching a receptive audience.

How about you?  What drives your creative process? 

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4 thoughts on “Chasing Words

  1. “My characters may live in a fantasy realm, but at the heart of it, the things they wrestle with are common to us all.” I love how you define epic fantasy! This is exactly what I’m aiming at with my own stories… Oh, and I have left a comment on Aimee’s blog, it was great to finally read an excerpt from The Fall of the Kings 🙂

    1. Once again so encouraging to be in contact with someone else who gets it! It gives me another push to keep working on the WIP. Thank you – and from one fantasy writer to another – best of luck!

  2. Well said, Raewyn.

    Like you, I’m a student of human nature and I adore words and the myriad ways in which we can use them to portray emotion and convey information. I’m focused on the entertainment value of my product. Not as a marketing strategy, but merely because I want to give my readers the joy I’ve received in my decades of reading.

    I’ll have to check out your first 500 words. Good luck with the critique, brave woman. 🙂

    1. Thanks Jolyse – I agree with what you say about the entertainment value of a story too. The themes and character studies are interesting and important – but you want a story that thrills, delights and hopefully gets under your skin. That’s another reason that should’ve made it’s way into the post – reading other people’s stories have been one of the greatest pleasures in my life. They have inspired me to make my own contribution.

      As for the critique – I’m grateful for all the feedback – but I do feel a bit exposed receiving it in such a public forum. I’ve been on a steep learning curve that’s for sure.

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