Sunday, May 24, 2009

GUEST POST: D.D. TANNENBAUM...Where’s the Joy in Writing?

[D.D. Tannenbaum will appear in a matter of days in M-Brane #5 with his story "The Hole that Max Found." He is a writer and computer technology expert who lives in the Austin area, and he's been a great friend to M-Brane. Here he talks about the thing that charms and obsesses and sometimes frustrates so many of us, whether it's our profession or our pastime, and suggests that it really needs to be for the love.]

I have been writing full time for almost two years and part time for the two years prior. I have read many blogs and websites of other authors, agents and editors and have been struck by their tales of “struggle” and the “sacrifices” they have to make to write and do their jobs. Almost everybody has these stories of how they suffered for their art. My question is this: Why do it if it doesn’t bring you joy? Why do something that takes more out of you than you get out of it? Ask yourself why you write. Is it because you think you should? “Shoulds” are one of the heaviest anchors we wear. If you do it just to make money, try something else, like ditch digging or tending bar. Far more rewarding in those cases and it pays better. Writing should be a rush! Argue with your characters, give them the same emotions you have yourself. Let them take on a life of their own, and let it be a good one. One of my favorite authors, A. Bertram Chandler wrote a series of science fiction stories concerning a spaceman named John Grimes. He must have written at least fifteen novels about his and the Worlds of the Rim. His character became so out of control, Chandler wrote himself into the story to take control back. Sir Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series, tried to kill his character off, but he wouldn’t die. This is what I mean about the joys as opposed to the struggle of writing. Also, don’t lock yourself in a sterile environment and pound away at your keyboard. I spend my days writing in a comfortable room, coffee at hand, with a big window to see the bright sunshine outside. I always have music playing, and have constant contact with friends and peers on the web.

Now, granted I am a novice at this, but my experiences are vastly different. There is a joy, both visceral and spiritual, when I am working on a story a story. There is something mystical about giving form to thought. I’m one of those writers who believes the story writes itself and I am just the instrument of its expression. The creative rush of writing a story is comparable to meeting your first love, or having a precious moment with one of your children.

I intend to support myself with my writing, but I am a realist in how long it takes. I am in no rush, I just keep writing stories. If I worried about getting published, or worried about what I was sacrificing for my art, I wouldn’t get any writing done at all. My stories are written; hopefully they’ll get published. But if not, they were still given form and my friends and family enjoy them.

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Merc said...

Great post, D.D.! I do agree you should enjoy writing, really get into it. I guess that tends to confirm that at least all the wars I have with my characters means... something good? O:)

Shhh, just don't tell them that, they don't need any more encouragement...



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