Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Do You Write? Why Do You Publish?

Catherine Wallace has stated that there are many more reasons to write than to publish. I think it would be fun for each of us to put this postulate to the test. Here are my preliminary personal results (without sorting for importance): I Write to:
  • Leave a record of my thinking for my friends and family.
  • Try my hand at the kinds of books I've always liked.
  • Prove that I have something interesting to say.
  • Communicate with others beyond my immediate circle of family and friends.
  • Give myself the satisfaction of creating something.
  • Give myself the enjoyment of quiet and concentration.
  • Exercise my powers of logic and deduction.
  • Improve my writing through multiple experiences.
  • Learn the craft.
  • Put myself into my characters' heads and learn to think like other people.
  • Vicariously experience events and situations that I would not otherwise know.
  • Become part of the community of writers.
  • Better understand the construction of the books I read and the thinking of their authors.
  • Have fun with thoughts.
  • Use my imagination.
  • Take my capabilities and interests beyond just doing something to earn a living.
I Publish to:
  • Share my work with others.
  • Try to sell some books and make some money.
  • Become known to others.
  • Fill my bookshelves with books by an author who shares my thoughts.
  • Have unique and personal gifts to distribute without shopping.
  • Communicate as a peer with other authors.
  • Add to my resume.
Conclusion: Catherine is correct. Not only did I list more reasons for writing than for publishing, but also I feel that it would be easier for me to add more entries to the writing list than to the publishing list. I suggest that this is the writer's version of Getting there is much more than half the fun.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's the Value of Conflict?

Most of the effort we put into interpersonal relations, and most of the effort our governments put into international relations are aimed at reducing or eliminating conflict. The tensions in our lives are caused by the many conflicts we perceive and encounter. Obviously, conflict must be a bad thing because we always try to eliminate it. This statement is not necessarily true in life, because we gain most of our benefits from negotiations due to the conflicts that ensue during the bargaining process. When you write fiction, as I do*, you learn that nobody will want to read your book if it doesn't contain enough conflict. People find books that are all happiness and void of conflict to be boring and uninteresting. Thus, we have a paradox between life and fiction. In life, we try our best to avoid conflict, while in the selection of fiction to read, we go out of our way to search for it. To resolve this conundrum, we have to look at the impact of conflict. If conflict impacts or affects us during the course of our lives, we seek to avoid it because conflict costs us in many ways: money, sleep, friendships, etc. When conflict occurs in a novel, it impacts fictional characters, and we can find that interesting without working up a sweat over it. It is the same principle that lets us enjoy a football game between two teams that aren't our favorites without caring who wins. We have no stake in the outcome. When one of the teams comes from our home town or college, we go through a psychological roller coaster process when our team looks as though it is on the way to winning or losing. The next time you find yourself in a personal conflict with someone, tell yourself that the outcome really doesn't matter that much, and you will find yourself able to think your way through it more objectively. If you don't let conflict emotionally suck you in, you will be more likely to be able to work your way out of it.

*To enjoy some conflict, read my "Lord's Prayer Mystery Series", books out to date: Lead Us Not into Temptation, Volume I, and Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread, Volume II. (written as Richard Davidson)