Thursday, January 20, 2011

Discovering the Reason and "Fun" in Fiction

There is a zeal to it. A certain euphoria to putting words on the screen. Simple things really. Just combinations of letters that all began their journey with the infamous 26. How many words are out there? Hundreds? Millions?

And we get to work with them every day.

We find our joy, our solace, maybe for some, our purpose, in the words we put down to craft and hone into a delicate balance of characters, plot and moments that all add into one glorious five letter word:


That’s why we write, isn’t it? To create a story?

There are several answers to that question:

1. Because certain characters will simply not let us be

2. We are in intoxicated by the power of words and the chance we have to wield them like freshly honed tools.

3. To make money and/or a career.

Is there anything wrong with any of those options? Of course not! Each one is a valid and worthy goal to strive for.

To be given a golden character that speaks to our hearts and fails to let go is a precious gift and only the writers who have been given such a blessing know and understand what I am referring to. Any character can be pulled out of time and space, but the characters that bloom of their own violation are the ones that truly shine under the skill of a gifted craftsman.

Words are intoxicating are they not? There is something crisp and new like biting into a perfectly sweet, ripe apple that draws a writer in with the words they are forming on the screen beneath their fingertips. Even as I write this I am swept away on the current my words on forming. They don’t have to form this way, I could choose a different one to follow, but to know my words put together in this order of forming a story is awe-inspiring! It leaves me humbled in what God lets me do every single day.

There are the writers who love fiction so much they want to make a career out of it. Here is where the trail splits between the feet of the serious and those that like to write fiction to say that have “written a book”. This business is not for the faint of heart. One must stand strong under the current of pressure that waves against him/her and be willing to spend countless time pursuing a goal in the hopes that their fiction stands and shouts louder than the others vying for equal attention.

What does this have to do with finding the fun in fiction you ask?

A great deal.

You must decide which of those categories you fall into and you must decide if that is where you want to stay. I imagine a great deal of you reading this are saying you fall into category number 3, am I correct? Thus, my next question, have you forgotten step 1 and 2?

Have you forgotten the thrill of putting words on the screen? Have you forgotten why you started writing in the first place? I imagine not very many of you sat down at the computer that first time with your end goal being to be published. Oh I am sure it might have been niggling in the back of your head, but you didn’t care. You just wanted to WRITE. You wanted to take those words burning to be formed into a story and with that passion blazing, you just wrote. And may I ask, what was your primary emotion while you did so?

Joy. Ecstasy. Perhaps even relief to finally express the burning emotions you had been squelching.

And now? Where are you in this journey now? Have you written several manuscripts? Found that WOW, you really like this thing called writing? You really like crafting characters? So you have started consuming books on the craft. Read posts and websites from those that have gone before. You chase the family from the area and bar a “no trespassing” sign to your writing area.

Are any of those things bad? No. Of course not. Studying the craft is excellent and being aware of your writing time is being a good steward.

But have you forgotten the real reason you started writing in the first place? Have you forgotten the euphoria of just creating with wild abandon?

Have you moved –dare I say it- from fun to obsession?

Are you obsessed with publication? Obsessed with editing that current WIP for the umpteenth time until it doesn’t even sound like you? Have you moved so far beyond remembering why you love to write to the extreme of gaining publication at any and all costs?

There is nothing wrong about being serious. It means you want this that much harder. But at what point are you willing to lay it all aside and simply get back to why you started writing in the first place.

Because you were having fun.

Are you willing to still write without ever seeing anything for it? Are you willing to get back to the enjoyment of writing, knowing there was probably nothing in it for you at the end, except the knowledge that you wrote another story? Or is all you think about when you sit down to write is how maybe this manuscript will land you a contract?

There is a bit of both in each of us. Myself included. But I fear if we stick with the latter, exhaustion and the forgetfulness for why we wanted this so badly in the first place will replace the fervor we once had. It is a trap I have fallen far too easily into myself. Only by the grace of God when He slapped me upside the head, did I see the damage I was doing to my enjoyment of writing. Of course I want to see publication. But when I fail to view it only as a dream and chase it like an obsession, all I come up with is a fist full of air where I thought the dream once hung. Are you the same? Have you forgotten the real reason? Only you can answer that question. Only you.

If you wish to see my prepost to this topic, check out my blog post from yesterday.


Kaye Dacus said...

Hopefully, everyone picked #1 and #2 . . . because if you chose this gig to make money, it's time to choose another career path!

(Says the "full-time" writer who has no time for writing because she spends most of her time working at the jobs that actually pay her.)

My goal for this year is to regain that love of writing, the love of story. I lost it last year in writing three books.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Thanks for the reminder to have fun as I walk along the writing road.
I love words . . . and I love story. I also love wooing readers with a story, whether it's a magazine article or a novel. It's all about selecting the right words to display truth in a way that touches people's hearts. That invites change.

Regina Merrick said...

The other day, during edit number ump-teen, probably, I read part of my manuscript and actually cried, because the scene drew me in and moved me. That's when I realized that it was #2 that drew me to write in the first place. Thanks for the reminder!

Angie Dicken said...

Ah Casey! You have written something so important here...I began writing because of the call and the passion I had to express myself in written form...but once the words became many, I started focusing on getting published...and that's when the obsession trumped my patience and I gave up all together. But after realizing how much I love to write, and coming to terms with the long wait, or the "never" possibility of publishing, I sat down and decided to write for the fun of it. When I start getting the itch to pursue publishing, knowing my work isn't ready, I remind myself to slow down and remember "in God's timing" and to just have fun with where I am at! I think you are right when you say this business is not for the faint of heart. I wouldn't be pounding away on my fourth unpublished novel right now if my only reason was the business.

Casey said...

KAYE, I hope you will regain that love and joy of writing, I know you have many readers who love your fiction! Thanks for coming by today. :)

BETH, YES, I completely agree! I think we look at this as too difficult. It's just WORDS. When you look at it that way, at least for me, it's less daunting.

REGINA, wow, that is a huge gift. I love to make people laugh and cry with my writing. :)

ANGIE, reclaim that love and the rest will follow. I truly believe that if you love something learning it is no big deal. :)

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Thanks Casey..great food for thought.

Casey said...

Thanks for coming by to read it Mare! :)