Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why I Continue To Write

The other day, a friend asked me why I continue to write (this stemmed off from when she asked how the royalties were and my subsequent answer). My reply to her was because I enjoy it. She found it difficult to understand, if there was no monetary motivation, why someone would continuously subject themselves to doing pittance work. She’s a very ambitious woman and runs a successful business—kudos to her and I wish her nothing but continued success.

Sometimes I forget that the literary world is shrouded in mystery, and only the lucky ones seem to have the knack of solving it (I'm still picking at the clues and joining up all the confusing dots). Those not collecting clues automatically think that once you write a book, it'll get published, it'll sell, and it'll give you instant fame and fortune with the movie deal in the works by the following year. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who think so. My friends and family included. The marketing side is a whole other mystery to solve and another thing people don't get (me either, it would seem).

While I am (moderately) ambitious, and (moderately) motivated by challenges, I prefer to do things I enjoy (who doesn’t, right?). So that means I will happily play quietly in a corner by myself while the chaotic world swirls around me. Enjoyment of things I love trumps all else. This doesn’t mean I shy away from hard work or monumental challenges (again, like marketing) where the goal is to succeed, shine brightly, and roll in the dough. I just prefer the personal satisfaction of doing something and finishing it while having fun, and knowing I could do it.

And, yes. I’ve discovered I love writing.

To me, writing isn’t about the money, of course, that helps immensely (don’t get me wrong, I live in the real world most of the time, and making money and having it, practically speaking, is just as important). But writing, it’s like I’ve finally found that outlet, an opening, an orifice, which allowed me to get out, to let loose a part of myself that needed to get out (and allows me to play quietly and actually have an excuse in doing so).

Did that make sense?

Being an artist, with the outlet of painting, drawing, designing, and creating, being my only sources of ‘venting,’ writing seemed like a natural transition to metamorphous towards. It felt right. It always winked at me seductively. And I’m so glad I found that blowhole to shoot out of and fall into its sweet embrace. (The other thing is music, but some things, let's just keep as wicked temptations we know we can never have. The world does not need more pain as I inflict them with my cacophony).

That being said, despite my enjoyment of creating literary realms, it hasn’t come with some drawbacks. I believe I’m even more misunderstood than I was before. I strongly suspect most of my friends and family (by family, I mean in-laws) think my writing is just a phase—this is evident by the dust collecting (in plain sight) on my still-to-be-read paperbacks in their bookshelves…which, evidently, I gave them as gifts since waiting for them to purchase them was akin to pulling teeth. (How do I know they haven’t read them yet? The spines aren’t even creased, and even the most careful of readers will still put a wrinkle or two in a book spine). The other evidence is the congenial smile some people plaster on their faces, the glazed look, or polite head-nodding, patiently waiting for me to finish my spiel about what I write so they can move onto the next topic faster than a speeding bullet.

I've gotten quite good at reading people's receptiveness so I know when, who, and how to talk about my writing. If at all.

The ones who have read my tales, some are genuinely impressed and encourage me to write more. They email or call me up and ask detailed questions about the characters and plots and it’s like a private Q & A, a one-on-one interview. Sooo good for the ego!

And this, to me, means so much more than rolling in the dough. To know that I’ve created something that has wowed someone enough to talk about it, now that’s enough motivation to keep on writing. To top it off, there are those people in my head that are lining up to get out and grab their 15 minutes of fame.

But regardless of my anemic royalties, the misconception that I’m a recluse (which I am for wholly other reasons) because I choose to be antisocial, because it's trendy for a writer to do so, or the deteriorating back and sciatica from lack of exercise as I stare at the monitor as my fingers fly over the keyboard like a concert pianist, I love writing.

And I’m so glad when the literary world hailed me, I replied.

So yes, people, I continue to write and play quietly in the corner and hold conversations in my head to the multitude who reside there while allowing my pittance pay to collect so I may save up for a rainy day. Since I live in the tropics, there's lots of rainy days. Good thing I have a day job.

TK Toppin


Big Mike said...

The public's misconception of author royalties is wide spread. Did you know that about 1.2 million titles are released in the US each year and across all those stories the average number of sales is roughly 200. Course there are a few that sale half a million for each book, but most do not.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

TKToppin said...

That it is, Big Mike. Thanks!!