Friday, June 27, 2014

What/Who Do You Write For?

Photo Credit
Better to write for yourself and have no public, then to write for the public and have no self. –Cyril Connolly

Why do you write stories? Do you write because you want to be published, so you write directly what the market is currently publishing? Or do you write because you love the art of crafting good stories? The exploration of character growth and the telling of the story that God has laid on your heart?

If you’re writing for the market, the market is always changing—like trying to hit a moving target when you still don’t know how to fire the arrow from the bow. What is being published and popular now was purchased by editors over a year ago and the change is already hitting for the next new and great thing.
There is always a time and place to write for the market, especially for the established author when your editor chases you down to write the next first release of a brand new line.

But new writers always seem to walk a fine line. Between writing what they want to write and writing what everyone seems to be publishing. It’s a recipe for a hair-pulling disaster. It draws me back to the quote at the top of the post and the question it prompts: would you rather write for the public or write for yourself?
There is a similar quote I have run across (and forgive the paraphrase): set yourself on fire and people will come from all over to see the flame. People want to see passion and excitement. They want to see joy rising from God’s people and taking off through the stories they are writing.

Publishing is always changing. One thing never does: great stories. Strong writing. A voice that sweeps readers away, so no matter the genre the reader is falling in love with the story. I was talking to a friend recently who had picked up a book in a genre he wouldn’t normally consider and stayed up until one in the morning to finish it.

What is that?

That’s not market writing.

That’s not writing for the sake of having a book that will sell to the publisher and sell to a reader.

That is passion on fire through story. That is great writing that hooked a reader and kept him coming back long after the acceptable expectation of turning off the light and setting the story aside.

It’s not a matter of writing what the market wants. It’s a matter of writing what is on fire in our souls to put on paper. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to publish that book or even get it in front of an editor. It might take years to find the right one and the right time. But we aren’t writing for the public or writing just for the sake of seeing our name on the cover of a book.

We are—and should—be writing for the sake of a story burning in our soul that must be told. The right publisher will come along in it’s own timing. It’s our responsibility in the meantime to perfect our craft and make this the best book we could write.

Our public will find this story soon enough and maybe, just maybe, you’ll change the world—or at least how one person in this world views everything here after.

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people. 


Sherry Carter said...

So true, Casey. I write Bible studies so I can't allow myself to get caught up in trends. It's hard not strive to be like the successful writers. I have to write in the voice God's given me. When I'm writing for Him, passion comes easy.

Casey said...

It is hard. It's hard to look at where we are at and see the success of other writers and not want to be where they are at. But God's journey is tailored for us and our success is not ours alone. Take heart! :)

Eduardo Suastegui said...

Nicely put. I place great emphasis on connecting with readers, but not through marketing or trend-chasing. As you say, it's about writing from your heart, with passion and conviction that engages the reader.

Richard Mabry said...

Casey, good points. I'll add one more--don't write for awards or applause, goals I have slipped into more than once.
I have above my desk these lines from author B J Hoff, and I have to read them several times a week to remind myself for whom I write:
"It matters not if the world has heard,
Or approves, or understands.
The only applause we're meant to seek
Is that of nail-scarred hands."

Casey said...

Eduardo, that is the best thing I love about social media: The chance to build relationships. It's the cornerstone of getting your foot into the publishing industry, but also because it's a great way to make some fantastic life-long friends!

Casey said...

Richard, that quote needs to be on the wall of every writer's office. That is so incredibly true. When we write for the sake of the awards, that's usually when I slip, stumble and slide down the hill of never thinking I can do this because I didn't make it in the award. Write for the Audience of One. It's my favorite Jeff Gerke quote. Thanks for coming by today!

Hope said...

Casey, I soooo appreciated this post today. I've been struggling inwardly about my current WIP. As I'm editing, I keep wondering, "who in the world will want to read this story?!" I have to constantly remind myself that I wrote it simply to get it out of my head and for my own growth and enjoyment...whatever happens next will be the Lord's will. Thank you for the encouragement to those of us lost and in doubt.

Casey said...

Hope, that is definitely why you are writing this book. Even if you or a handful of other people ever read that story, you are impacting a life. Making a difference, even when it feels like it's not worth it. It is. It definitely is

Unknown said...

I am so glad I saw this today. I have been struggling more than I ever thought I would. I absolutely love writing, and truly believe it is what I am meant to do with my life. I use to write short stories and poetry growing up, and always told myself I would write a book but never got around to it. Finally I took a long, hard look at my life, and it hit me. I wasn't living the life I was meant to, I am a writer, it's a part of who I am, not just something i simply do. I am currently working on my third book of a series, (still seeking an agent for the first one) and I find myself hurting because I want to share my stories with anyone and everyone. I want to make a difference in someone's life, and your post made me realize i do, even though I'm not published. I have a couple of friends who read my work, so I can have someone to bounce idea's off of. I never stopped to think that they could be impacted by my work, and that's all I dream of. To think I stumbled upon your post, through a tweet. From someone I don't even know personally. God works in wonderfully mysterious ways, and I am so thankful for that.