Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a Hard Working Writer...

  • Roger Colby

Why Do I Write?

I’ve had a pretty rough week as a writer.  I have quibbled over two projects I currently have in the works, and realized that I haven’t really done enough in the planning stage to continue.  I have spent the past two days without a single word written and it’s killing me.

My problems are thus:

  1. The roman soldier historical novel that I’ve been wanting to write for over a decade is backed by tons of research, but I did the research so long ago that it is no longer that relevant for me and most of it has been forgotten.  This means hitting the books again, and I need to find a couple of days where I can go to the local college library.  I also need to thumb through my copy of Dr. G. R. Watson’s fantastic book The Roman Soldier: Aspects of Greek and Roman Life and figure out what all of my highlighting and notes mean after all these years.  The problem is that I hit a breakthrough this week that would tie an event at the beginning with an event at the end of the novel that would cause the main character to have a very deep epiphany, and want desperately to see it happen.

  2. The science-fiction parable is the other WIP I have started, but like saying the wrong thing in front of a middle school bully it has forced me to think carefully about point of view and whether or not the action is moving at a pace that is acceptable in this current fiction market.  I have fleshed out all of the principal characters, but some more are being created as we speak and I don’t want to populate the book with too many flat ones that never go anywhere.  I have the book completely outlined, but more and more side plots rise up and my main fear is telling a story that becomes flat and lifeless.  The novel has the potential to be one of those stories that are multi-layered and reveal little surprises along the way so that by the end we are not anywhere close to the setting where the book began and all along we have been in some place unimaginable.  It will be a wild ride for a reader.

This week I have really been examining what it means to be a writer, mainly examining my motivation for sitting down at a blank screen and churning out word after word and creating basically something from nothing.  I posted a quote today on Twitter and Facebook by Thomas Berger: “Why do writer’s write?  Because it isn’t there.”  This quote holds true for me because I don’t want to be just another writer writing a zombie apocalypse book or a vampire romance book.  I want to write books that are unique and interesting, shop the market, find things that haven’t been done and do them.

But in this post-modern world, can anyone really write anything new?  I say that we can.  There are always stories to be told.  People never get tired of seeing the hero succeed, the villain vanquished, the lovers fall in love and the plot twisted.  I tend to write books based on what I’m reading at the moment, always the person who watches the very dramatic television show or reads the fiction novel and says “I would have ended it this way” or “What if this character were a villain instead?”.

The question is, dear reader, why do you write what you write?  Have you ever stopped to consider this question?  I think if you try to answer it then it will make you that much better at what you do.  The point is to have a purpose.  Mine is to somehow share the Gospel of Christ in everything I write, even if it is set in a far away imaginary universe, a post-apocalyptic earth, a first century Judea or a small town in Oklahoma.

Post below and reaffirm your purpose.

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