Thursday, October 18, 2007

Church Mice?

People always assume, when I say I am a novelist, that I must be rich. Writers equal money in people's imaginations. When I have to confess to the fact that I, like many, many writers, am not rich, they cannot understand why I even bother doing what I do.

Some writers are rich, millionaires even, think J K Rowling - Dan Brown must be worth a pretty penny too - but what about the majority? Are they poor as church mice and if they are, why do they do it?

Well speaking for me, I do it because I have to. I have all these people living in my head, they have lives, they have experiences to, well, to experience. They need to travel. I tell you they're there hammering like the devil to get out. What am I going to do about them? Can I turn them off? No, they are not a radio, can I block them out? Well I guess I can try.

Now suppose I am on a solitary walk, no distractions, no worries about what to get for dinner because I am not in a supermarket, I can't pretend to do anything but put one foot in front of the other. That's when they get really anxious to get out. They start up telling me what they are doing, where they are going - heavens above they even give themselves names! If I did not go home, sit down at my computer and start to type, these characters would drive me to drink, or even worse. I have to do it. I have no option to quit.

If that sounds grim, well it isn't, it is such fun. I can live life vicariously through their adventures, and I don't even have to leave home to do it. Sure I do it because they keep coming into my head but what came first - the cart or the horse? Who put them there originally? Some unseen source? I don't think so, I started it all off. I had to have said one day. "I am going to write," and low and behold it happened.

Of course that isn't to say there is no such thing as writer's bloc, that there is no desperate search for a plot. I mean, everyone has to have heard the joke about the writer who, having died, was being lowered into his grace. He sighed happily. "Ah, a plot at last!"

We all suffer the slings and arrows of being unable to create but thankfully it passes. Sooner or later the characters come back - the plot might be more difficult, but hey if I can start with a character I can get around that. Somehow.

No, writers on the whole do not write because they want to earn money, they write because they have least that is my story.


Kathleen said...

What a rich imagination you have!

Debbie Wallace said...

Oh, you are so right! Every once in a while someone at work will ask, are you making any money off your books? Or then I'll hear someone say, you must not be making any money if you're still here. I just want to clobber them!

margaret blake said...

Aren't they just the most irritating of people - just tell them, you are an artist, you don't grub around thinking about money. Ha ha.

Sarita Leone said...

"...these characters would drive me to drink, or even worse."

Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard when I read that! I SO understand characters who simply won't shut up inside my head. :)

Great post. I enjoyed every word.

margaret blake said...

I reviewed what I had written at least three times, still got a typo in there - anyone spot it? Lowered into his "grace" indeed! Sounds quite rude. Grave, grave, grave