Because I enjoy the challenge

cartoon of person winningWhen 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?

14 thoughts on “Because I enjoy the challenge

  1. Janice Heck

    I love retirement. I call it My Time to Write (my blog). I do a little volunteering, pull together a little community newsletter, sing in a choir, but the bulk of my time is spent at my computer reading blogs, writing comments, and writing new posts for my own blog. It’s not a balanced life and I’m not earning any money, but it’s what I like doing.

  2. rinellegrey

    For me, I think writing is an extension of reading. I read a book because I like the characters, I want to find out what happens to them, and I want to live in a different world for a little while. I write for the same reason really. I want to know what happens to those characters and I like having control over the process. I know that in my own stories, I’m going to like the ending!

    Publishing was just a natural follow through. I figure if I enjoy my stories, then probably other people out there will too. How many? Hard to say, but so long as there’s at least some of them, I’m content.

  3. carver22

    You’ve set me wondering. Why do I write? I’m not sure I can give a satisfactory answer beyond that I’ve always done it and I still enjoy doing it. As you say, there’s the challenge of shaping a story, of shaping paragraphs and sentences to make the most of them, then the pleasure when someone else reads and enjoys them. But I think also that, even though I’m a long way further down the slope to oblivion than you are, it’s not about the future, it’s about now. And that’s not an allusion to your space operas. I just think that whatever genre we’re working in, each time we write it’s a genesis, the start of a new reality. But now this is sounding like a candidate for Pseuds’ Corner, so I’ll stop.

  4. Paul Trembling

    I fall into the category of someone with a head full of stories that I can only get rid of by writing them! Honestly, there’s been times when I’ve wanted to give up writing entirely and go and do something useful instead, like DIY perhaps. But then I’d still need to do something with all the stories. And even if my writing is never ‘successful’ in terms of sales, it’s got to be better than my DIY!

    Not so much perverseness. Just taking who I am to the limit.

    1. Greta van der Rol

      Good on you, Paul. I know one person, name of Diane, who has all these people in her head, shouting at her. Really, it’s about enjoying life, so go for it.

  5. juliabarrett

    I write because I am. That simple. The truth is, once upon a time I expected to write the next great American novel. Oh, how young I was! Now I’m happy to weave a good story.

  6. MonaKarel

    Thanks for the shout out! If you check the blog, you see a photo of me showing a Saluki (that’s a silly sort of hound) The significance of the photo is, I showed that dog for four days under different judges and pretty much did nothing. Zilch. Zero, Bupkiss…you get the picture. Now I’ve had Salukis for over 40 years. Yep, that long. I’ve bred and shown them. I’ve judged in different parts of the world. I know this dog isn’t perfect, but he is better than average. On this weekend we didn’t do much. On other weekends, we’ll do better. Same dog, different judges.
    I know my books, Greta’s books, are better than average. Some readers will embrace them with great fervor. Some will pass them by. Some will dislike them enough to write wretched reviews. Same book. Different readers.
    We keep writing because…well why the heck not? Beats gardening…wait, I do that. And cooking…oops I do that too. It gets me up in the morning? Nah, the Salukis do that, sometimes much earlier than I like! I write because I enjoy writing. Isn’t it grand to do at least one thing because it just makes us happy?

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