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It’s not always about why

It’s not always about why. I’m often asked why I write. The act of writing isn’t always easy and the art of promotion is just about as painful as anything I can imagine. Although I feel fortunate to have found my voice and style the last few years, I am less than an amateur at self-promotion. So, why write? It can be difficult, clacking out page after page (a lot of which no one will ever read). It can be unforgiving, reaching out to publisher after publisher only to get a “No thanks” 90% of the time (I feel lucky that I’ve been hovering around a 10% acceptance rate for short stories). That can all lead to creative depression, self-doubt, but hopefully not a headache enough to try self-trepanation (ask author S. S. Michaels about that technique). In 2010-2011, that meant 120 tries for 12 published stories. For me, that equated to almost a new short story every other week. Lots of those never made it through a first draft. Even so, I don’t feel like I actually completed anything.

It’s not always about why. Creating something new is a terrific rush. Mulling over a new plot is like musical crack; it’s addictive to fall into an accidental idea and to thankfully have the words burst onto the page like a digital explosion of forethought, afterthought, and the warming glow of post-coital satisfaction. And I sketch quite a bit. Not a sketch in the artist’s sense, but instead I write scenes or vignettes or just sentences that push my #10 envelope of creativity. More than my share of sketches are just exercises and won’t see much more activity than that. Though a few of these wiggle and writhe their way into later works. A suggestion? Never, ever delete anything. No matter what. Ever, never. Even if smooth-skinned, patently purple aliens are swooping down to cull every last one of us for sexual favors and a simple press of the Delete key is the ultimate weapon. Got it?

It’s not always about why. I am evil. I hold nothing back. And when I’m editing my writing, I am my own worse enemy. Though I hate editing, I know that every single word and every single sentence will be better after a second or third pass. If a writer won’t or can’t realize that, he or she should consider another passion. (Try waffle making, or peanut butter painting as alternatives.) No one’s first product is his or her best. And sometimes neither is the second or third or fourth revision. I like most of my stories and I hate parts of every one of them. I’m a penis wrinkle.

It’s not always about why. But my first answer to that question is usually a cliché. I write because I want to. Even if no one ever reads a single word. Even then. I like the process from beginning to end. Really. It is at times hard and easy, fun and boring, infuriating and calming, pleasurable and immensely painful. All of it (sometimes all at once). And I’m in love with it all. Of course, the next time someone asks, I may just say that I write so I can experience the look on a reader’s face when they actually see one of my stories for the first time. And get it.

It’s not always about why. But it is always about you.

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