Friday, October 15, 2010

Why do I bother?

How many times have you, as an author, asked yourself the question: Why do I bother? This question, like a sleeping dragon, usually rears its head when I receive a rejection from an agent or editor or some negative review of my work. If you entertain the question long enough, it will literally suck the life out of your soul. You will be consumed with self-doubt and can get into what I call 'rewrite hell'. This is where you doubt your work is ever good enough and rewrite the same manuscript ad nauseum. Rewriting is essential, but there has to be a point at which we believe we've done our best and it is 'good enough'.

I know that, when I get a rejection that leaves me deflated and disappointed, I can tend to throw up my hands and shout to the heavens, "Why do I bother?" Then I consider the question. Here's why I bother: Because I could no more stop writing than I could cease to breathe. Because befriending new characters and uncovering their stories is so much damn fun. Because starting a new book with a 'what if' question and seeing it through to the end amazes me every time I do it.

I bother because I'm a writer. The need to create stories and introduce characters is in my heart and soul. I'm compelled to write. When an editor passes on a manuscript because it, "doesn't fit what I'm looking for," or when an agent responds that he or she, "is not the right person to represent this work," it can be disappointing. Because all of us read between the lines: "This book just doesn't measure up."

But, then, there are the moments that remind me again why I bother: When a reader tells me my story touched her heart, gave her hope, made her laugh and cry, or that she fell in love with my characters. And those moments make the bother worthwhile.

Linda Rettstatt

Author of Shooting Into the Sun and Next Time I'm Gonna Dance, both now available at Champagne Books. Coming in November, Love, Sam.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please visit my blog at for details about a special promotion on Next Time I'm Gonna Dance from Champagne Books and Linda Rettstatt that will raise money for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.


Carol McPhee said...

I know the value of your comments because all of those reasons are why I write, too. Writing takes me away from the real world with all its grim news and allows my spirits to soar. Your stories are told with true heart, Linda. Carol
Multi-Published, Award-Winning Romance Novelist
Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks, Carol. There are days when we do have to dig deep to remind ourselves of why we go through the agony to get to the joy of writing. Hmmm, sounds a bit like giving birth!


Holly Hunt said...

i'm always amazed when I hear people asking 'Why do I bother?' after getting a rejection or something negative. I tend to have a happier view on it (I've only got 1m^2 of wall to fill before one wall of my room is covered in rejects. Can I do it? Hells yes!) and I like the thought of, later on, when I'm all big and famous, laughing at them ina world-dominating-evil-overlord kind of way (Is there a more self-satisfying laugh? If so, I have yet to discover it).

I already got the chance with one book, where 4 people gave me advice on how to fix it, mostly in way that weren't so much 'fixing' as 'giving it a happy ending when it's not meant to have one'. and then I got a contract for it just the way it is. So to them I sat in my room and rolled out one laugh and evil smile combo: Muah. Ha. Ha.

So.. Yeah. Rejects aren't things you should cry over (or even feel depressed about). Rejects are to paper your wall with (or throw darts/sharpies at) and grin evilly at later on down the line.

That's my philosophy, anyway.