This month's Round Robin Blog topic is: How has writing rewarded you? What has it cost? I’m going to answer these two questions in reverse because most us of like to have the bad news first so the good news sounds that much better.
What has writing cost? Beyond the obvious in dollars & cents and time & effort for promotion of me as an author and marketing for each book as it comes out, there are costs that those who don’t write will never guess at. To start with is the angst over the questions, Am I good enough? Have I got anything others will want to read? What if I can’t finish what I start? What if I do finish and no one wants my book?my book?
Then there’s the loneliness of being a writer. It is a very solitary thing to be sitting at your desk with nothing but a computer and your notes to keep you company as you turn your idea into reality. Writing can cost time away from family and friends. It sometimes costs you sleep. It cuts into time for exercise and meals and nights on the town, and even when you are off doing other things, in the back of your mind is the nagging thought, I should be writing!
But finally, after all that sacrifice and time, you type THE END. Except that’s not the end. It’s only your first draft. Now you have to go back and edit. Often cutting brilliant little snatches of dialog or a scene you loved because on review, you realize it doesn’t push the story forward, or even drags the reader out of the story. Cutting up your baby costs!
Then, after three or four, or maybe even a dozen revisions, you’re ready to send your manuscript out into the world. As eager as any writer, especially a new writer, is to see their baby in print - in the hands of eager readers, now you must brace for rejections. Every writer, even those on the best-seller lists has a file full of rejections. Occasionally there might be a helpful comment for future submissions, but most will just say, sorry, it doesn’t fit our line, and good luck somewhere else which is totally discouraging and not at all helpful. Even when a publisher does contract your book and it’s out there, readers can be merciless with criticism. This is your baby – the story of your heart you’ve worked so hard to create. Rejection and criticism hurts. But a good writer, an author with a will to write the best books ever will take those comments and grow. Their next book will be better. And the next better than the last. But there are those growing pains. Even once you have a book published, getting reviews, even from readers who say they loved your book, can be like herding cats: a frustrating, disappointing, seemingly impossible task made even more dispiriting by the reality that it takes reviews to get your book noticed where it counts.
And that’s what being a writer costs.
But the rewards? Those can be sweet indeed and many are unexpected. The first reward a new writer discovers are the friendships one makes with other writers, people you would probably never have met had you not been trying to write a book. You discover how generous established writers are with their hard-won knowledge – rather than being competitive, most of them are willing to help out newbies and pass along valuable tips and helpful guides. You might join writing chapters and find more ideas than you ever imagined at meetings and workshops. If you join a critique group or brainstorming group, you discover new depths and directions for your own ideas. Your plot becomes stronger, weaknesses get fixed and holes plugged. And even better, you go home from these kind of meetings filled with energy and eagerness to get back to your current work in progress.
The next reward is the letter or email from the agent or editor you submitted your query to asking for the full manuscript. But even bigger is the one offering the contract. Depends on your makeup, but some writers find themselves crying when they get this very first contract. Some jump up wanting to shout out to anyone close enough to hear that they’ve sold their book. Call their best friend, everyone in their writer’s group, text their spouse or their kids or parents. This is a huge, euphoric moment. You’ve sold your book!
As the publishing process progresses there are more wonderful moments of reward, like the day the cover design arrives, and a release date is set. Another reward is holding that book in printed form in your hand, seeing your name on the cover and realizing you actually did it. You’ve created this wonderful story that others can hold in their hands, or read on their e-readers and enjoy.
Now you are a published author. You discover readers who love your books and can’t wait for the next one, which gives you an enormous boost of energy as you start in on the process all over again. That’s an amazingly rewarding feeling. Most writers enter their books in contests from time to time and when you become a finalist there’s another endorsement that you are really a writer. And when your baby places or wins, you get to put that award on your shelf where you see it often. Validation! You’ve arrived! Your dream is real. All that work, angst and disappointment along the way – the reward is sweet indeed.
Take a trip to these other sites to find out what costs and rewards these other writers have found:
Dr. Bob Rich
Rhobin L Courtright