What do I want out of this writing career? A common question that a lot of authors ask themselves. My answer may or may not be so common, though. I used to think it was to be famous and rich and to have people swoon over me and recognize me in the grocery store.
To live in a big house and travel to exotic places as research for the setting in my next thriller. To hang with the likes of Stephen King, Lee Child, Harlen Coben, James Patterson, and Patricia Cornwell.
But with some of the events that have happened over the course of my short writing career, I’ve had the opportunity to really think about what I want, and those above mentioned things really aren’t it. I like money, who doesn’t, and traveling to cool places is, well, cool. Big houses are sweet and all of those authors in one room would be a trip. But the cost would be something I might not be willing to spend. And that cost would be my freedom.
I like my life. Sure, it has its problems and drawbacks, but it’s been a pretty good run so far. I’ve been lucky to have the best family a man could ask for, a job that pays well and is not boring, a retirement ahead that most would envy and the opportunity to entertain a few people along the way.
I like writing to entertain. And I’m going to be a little selfish for just a second; that first draft is always for me. It pours out of me in a rush, waiting for no one and no thing until it gets told. To me. By me.
Selfish part over.
Because when it’s out, I smile, put it away for a bit to season, and then it gets pulled out and set upon to make it suitable for the reader. Yep, then it’s all about you. It’s all about making it the best it can be to entertain.
And I love that. I love the fact that I might just be able to pull somebody out of their ho-hum day and make their blood rush through their veins a bit faster, or make them awe at something that didn’t occur to them, or make them weep at something that touched them, or that made them hold their spouse a little closer that night. It’s all about the gift, and I love that I have the privilege to give it. Even if it’s just a little bit.
Would I do it if I got nothing in return? Tough question. We all like to feel that our contributions to humanity have some positive effects, and I’m no different. Maybe the appropriate question would be would I do it if I didn’t make a single penny. Yes.
I have a tendency to enjoy feedback about my work more than a tick on the accounting spreadsheet. And that is why I know I’ll keep doing this whether anything ‘big’ happens or not.
But let’s go back to the freedom thing. And this is important to me. I love writing. Love it. I have to do some form of it everyday or I feel like something is missing. If my stories propel me to something that is too big, that enjoyment might just go bye-bye. I hear all the time of authors who have ‘made it’ only to find that making it meant they gave up their lives, or family, or freedom. That some publisher took over their daily existence and ruled their lives. This does not appeal to me. Not one bit.
I don’t give a crap about being on Oprah, or a radio talk show, or Good Morning America, or a huge book signing event. I know I should, but those things actually scare me. Not because I have stage fright or am a germ-a-phobe, or hate people. It scares me because I might lose track of myself. And if that happens, I won’t exist. Period.
Would I like some success? Yes. Just enough to pay a few bills and interact with some cool people who get me. And that’s why I’ve chosen this independent route in my writing journey. It allows me to put out a really good story, clean and professionally edited, without giving away the farm and possibly my life. I can work as much or as little on the stories as I want, no pressure to produce except what pressure I put on myself, (and at the moment I’m putting quite a bit) and if I don’t like a story, can it, re-write it, or see what others think. Pretty cool and pretty powerful for me.
This is also why I give some of my writing away for free. I worked just as hard on it as the ones that cost a little bit, but I like to give away some joy in this life and free is always cool. In that measure I do give a crap.
Know this. I want to keep doing this. And I love it, so if you’ll stick with me on this journey, we might just find a few cool things about each other we didn’t know. And my freedom I’ll hold on to. Even if it means I’m not available to bookstores and worldwide distribution.
And that is all I want. Simple.