When people talk about success in any endeavour – be it golf, acting, writing or anything else you care to name – much emphasis is placed on perseverance. I was reading an article by my writer friend Mona Karel on just that subject. Certainly it’s an absolutely vital requirement for success in any journey where you have to make the grade. You’ve heard all the cliches about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and starting all over again. Carry on in the face of adversity and all that.
But you know, I guess it all depends on what you mean by success. Sure, I want to make sales. If I didn’t why would I publish? If you go to all that trouble to write a book, of course you want people to read it. So does this mean if you only sell a handful, that’s bad?
I think maybe for me the driving force has changed. In terms of human lifespan I’m well over the hump and on the downward slide. My motivations have changed. I no longer feel I have to prove anything to anybody. Do I write because I have to? (Some people do) Maybe because I have all these stories trying to fight their way out of my head? (Some people do) Maybe I just love it? (Some people do)
Er, no. None of the above. Not really. Sure, I like writing. I’m well past the age of doing something I don’t want to do. But that’s the thing about retirement. Some people play bowls, some do volunteering and community service – and hats off to them. Me, I write. I enjoy the challenge of writing a good story. If it’s something I care deeply about, like wildlife conservation, that’s a fabulous motivation which keeps me going when my body mumbles stuff about not feeling like it. (That’s the perseverance bit) I enjoy the research and finding out new information, be it on wildlife preservation, fractals, the discovery of new exo-planets or new advances in computer science. Combine that with coming up with a plot that will hold a reader’s interest, compelling characters, evocative and convincing description, while all the while being cognisant of proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. It keeps my brain busy. And that is good.
I also like the fact that writing enables me to give a little back. That’s why I donate my tiger book profits to conservation.
So tell me, why do you bother?