Saturday 25 June 2016

Why publish?

My dear friend Jeni challenged me with some questions after my previous post.  I often think of Jeni as the epitome of a critical thinker.  Perhaps it's because she's a nurse.

Anyway, her question got me thinking right away and I felt I needed some room to compose an answer.  So, here goes.

Jeni's question:  Does the place where the joy and love of writing come from not satisfy enough?  Or is there a time when it needs to be shared?  I am guessing it is like things in our lives when we want and need some recognition?

Which took me first of all to the question of why I write.  I came up with several reasons, some admirable and some not so much.  Certainly, there are times when I write for myself.  This is usually in the form of journaling when I don't understand something about myself, my life or other people and I need to write it out.  I don't usually share this with other people.  It's more of a mental health exercise, although it sometimes leads to writing to share.  My blogs may sometimes come out of this kind of place, although I'm always aware that the blog will be read by others and so I often delete certain things or even entire ideas that I don't want to be public or that won't interest anyone but myself.

Mostly, though, what I write is meant to be read.  I'm not sure if this is because I'm more of an introvert or because I'm a slow thinker, but I love the format of the page for communicating with others.  It may be argued that we read to find and understand ourselves.  I have repeatedly had the comforting and encouraging experience of reading a sentence, story, poem or book which so perfectly described the world or myself in a way I would never have put together on my own.  I hope that my writing does this once in a while.  I had the supreme compliment once from my good friend Katie, who was dealing with the passing of her grandfather-in-law, that she felt I was there with her because she was reading one of my books at the time.  I am so glad she told me.  That, in a nutshell, is one of the best reason I write.

Publishing and the desire to be published is different and yet, maybe not entirely.  Publishing is business and money and a certain amount of fame and or recognition (although for most this amounts to very little).  I'm sure that not all of my reasons for desiring publication are honourable, but I think some of them are.  Publishing is the way a writer connects to a reader.  Self-publishing allows for some of this, but without self-promotion, it won't necessarily get to anyone.  I loath self-promotion, and yet I do it in the hopes of connecting to a reader.

Traditional publishers have connections to readers.  Some of them promote for you, or at least with you.  It is also an affirmation that my writing is worth reading.  I can't deny that I struggle to write sometimes because I doubt it's a worthy occupation.  Apparently I'm not alone in this feeling.  Stephen King wrote "I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent.  If you write (or paint or sculpt or sing, I suppose) someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all."  From On Writing.  I don't even need someone to tell me this.  I already think it on my own sometimes.

Who needs another novel?  Especially one of my novels, which really aren't that important.  I need more novels and more people to make sense of things for me through each confusing and overwhelming stage of life.  If I can share this experience with my writing one day, I feel that the pursuit of publication is valid.           


  1. You are too kind Samantha! Really.
    I really appreciate your answer and taking the time to work through it, I didn't expect that from my probing question.
    I completely agree with you I feel very strongly that those with that "God-given" talent should write and should push to be published. As someone who doesn't not write creatively I crave to read those who have an ability to articulating thoughts that I could not, I long for pictures of the world that I did not see, and I so desire to be moved into action or changed from words. Writing and words are sooo important and need to be shared and explored together, even if there is not agreement. As in all work, hobbies, life etc. We all long for that recognition, that look at me moment, so I appreciate it so much that you too as a writer can and do identify with that. There is balance there of selflessness and acknowledgement. Curious to know what that looks and feels like from an author.
    You are terrific Sam!

    1. Right back at ya, Jeni. Thanks for reading and for you lovely comments.

  2. Oh, Sam <3

    The world does need your very unique voice in it. You truly never, ever know when something you write is going to grab someone and be meaningful to them. You may never know it; you know that your writing has had significant meaning for me, and I actually teared up that you remembered that! For every person that says something, or writes a review, I guarantee you that there are more that are too shy or reserved or uncertain to say anything about it.

    You know me and my beliefs in there being reasons for everything we experience. I believe that there is a reason we write, too. There's a reason we are given stories to tell and the ability to tell them. Maybe it only affects one person, but then you have to remember that story of the man on the beach, tossing stranded, beached creatures back into the ocean. Someone approaches and says, "Look how many there are! You'll never make a difference." And the man looks down at the one of thousands in his hand and tosses it back into the ocean and says "Made a difference to that one!"

    I struggle so much with sharing my writing and have learned so much from you. I think you are always so brave for putting your writing out there. So don't stop, because you are an inspiration to others - like me!! Love you and your writing Sam. <3