I’ve been in several discussions with writers this week about what motivated us to finally submit our first story to a publisher. Thinking back to a decade ago, I remember clearly what my motivations were. I submitted my first novel, Island Song, for two reasons.
First, I had been working on Island Song for a few years and I thought it was a good, solid story, but I felt that the writing was substandard. I had written a number of stories before Island Song, but because I hadn’t meant to publish them, I never took the time to polish the writing. Once I had a story down on paper, I moved on to the next story. Yes, back then I had a lazy streak a mile wide. But Island Song was different. I felt it was a superior story than anything I had done before, and I wanted to perfect it. I knew I wouldn’t push myself unless I had some kind of payoff, and seeing the novel in print, I felt, would be the payoff that would motivate me.
It worked. I spent another few years learning my craft while polishing the prose on Island Song.
The second motivating factor was the economy. In 1999 I retired from the corporate world with a small, but sufficient nest egg. But with the stock market crash after 911, my nest egg shrank by more than half. If things had gotten any worse, I would have had to go back to working for a living. I had no desire to go back to wearing a suit and tie every day, so I had hoped that if I could publish a novel or two, I might be able to earn enough income to keep me in retirement. It’s actually funny that I had noooo idea how few books new writers normally sell, or how many years and books it takes to develop a following.
It’s been a long and often rewarding path. I’m still working on learning my craft, and I’m still trying to grow my following to something that will provide some amount of steady income. But those are no longer the reasons I write or publish. I write for the pure joy of creating unforgettable characters and stories, and I publish so other people can share in the joy by reading those stories. I love creating, and I love sharing. Simple as that.