Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Why do we write? by Terry Burns
The market for westerns is soft. That means editors aren't buying many. A group of western writers I interface with have been talking about this with several saying they weren't sure they wanted to try to write them any more. Keep in mind this group has bibliographies up well in the hundreds. The discussion has been enlightening. One writer summed up the thoughts of many when he said:
"Now I don't know about the rest of this crowd, but I for one write for the love of writing. And I write westerns for the love of the American west. I write for the love of Bob Steele and Hoot Gibson and Randolph Scott and John Wayne, those people who birthed my imagination back when a bent stick could be a blazing six-gun and my old dog a faithful steed. I write, I suppose, because I've never really grown up."
I love westerns too, always have. I haven't tried to write traditional westerns because I came to the party late and I knew it. I've had some small success in writing some in the time period for the Christian market, and I'm trying to reach out to some new readers of the old west with a YA series. That's a tough sell too.
But is that why I write? No, that's why I have written in that time period, for the love of it. The long answer of why I write is on my website, under the writing testimony link. The short answer to why I do what writing I still do, and my efforts to help other writers get their words out is very simple. After much soul-searching and foot-dragging, I believe God has asked me to do it, and until I am relieved from one or both tasks I'll continue to do it.
Some write to achieve recognition, some for financial gain, some because they have words on their heart and nothing will do but to get them out. A secular writer who doesn't sell books well up in the five figures does not impress the mainstream publishing industry. A Christian writer who makes only a single sale but that sale changes someone's life would be considered a success. Having said that, I don't know a single Christian writer (including myself) who only wants a single sale. We all want to get our words in as many hands as possible, and sales is how we measure how well we are doing that. I write out of love and obedience . . .
. . . why do you write?