Having recently completed the first stages of my (paperback) book launch party (Knight Out On The Town Tour) which ran through most of June, I’ve been thinking a bit about why we, as writers, do what we do.
Of course there’s the old “I could never *not* write”. That may be true for some, but I personally don’t subscribe to this theory. While I like to write stories, I don’t think my head would explode if I never wrote another line. [Note: if I do attempt this experiment I’ll be sure to warn you, in case of exploding heads…]
But I think primarily we writers do what we do because we are the tellers of stories, to those who would listen. We write for our readers. We write to entertain them, or inform them, or to present a new way of looking at the world.
Granted there are some among our ranks who only write for their own pleasure and edification, or because they have something they need to get off their chest. Keep in mind I'm speaking in general terms here--not of the writers on this blog, who are professional published authors, but of those who don't DO anything with their work. Because—and here’s the big difference--they never share that work. Whereas the majority of us—the 99%, if you will—write our tales with an audience in mind. There’s a sense of community there, stretching back to the days of the prehistoric cave men (and cave women, let’s not forget), that we still enjoy. Just as the tribal storyteller spun tales which would amuse or alarm or inform the rest of the tribe, so today we do the same, albeit in electronic or print fashion. Much easier (and faster) than trying to chisel in all those cave pictographs.
And I think we writers really want (and need) that sense of communion with our readers. Where would we be without them? I know darned well I wrote Traitor Knight in the hopes that people (other than my family and friends) would read and enjoy the story. Because I thought I had something entertaining to share with The Audience.
That’s why we’re so thrilled when a new review pops up on Amazon or Goodreads. Whether good or bad, that review serves to verify that yes, by gum, somebody read my words. And that’s important. If nobody is reading what we write, what’s the point? We could accomplish the same thing by shouting down a well.
I sometimes wonder if these blog posts are like that. Is anyone—besides the group of us who post here on a regular basis—reading this stuff? Or are we simply writing for our own amusement? I’m a little afraid it’s kinda like the SETI project—“Is anyone out there listening?”
I hope you’re listening, and I hope you’ll respond with a comment.
Keith W. Willis is the author of the award-winning swashbuckling fantasy Traitor Knight. He lives in upstate NY with one wife and no cats. He does not drink coffee, but does consume copious quantities of tea. When he's not busy with his day-job, managing an eclectic group of database content editors, he can be found working diligently to finish Desperate Knights, the second installment of the Knights of Kilbourne saga.