What do we seek when we write?

I’ve had a variety of internal debates, or considerations, or discussions going on recently. The uncertainty on its label is due largely to the lack of time I’ve had to really puzzle this all out, and these are topics it would really do me well to sit and talk about with someone artistic who engages in similar things that I do, and since that isn’t happening anytime soon I am left with (and subsequently can only deliver) ambiguity. If you made it past that sentence, thanks–the next paragraph won’t be so bad.

For years, I’ve wanted to be a writer, and only recently have I wanted to write. I envision this work as something I do alone, privately, toiling and drafting, throwing out and creating, and eventually handing to an editor before re-writing for a third or fourth time. When I finally feel something is completed ((Probably after a fifth go.)), I’ll put it out for the world to see, critique, and appreciate or detest. It’ll be a polished, finished project though, to the best of my abilities.

As I look at my lifestyle, my time, and the nature and style of my writing, I wonder if that’s the right method for me. There is certainly value in it, but I can’t help but look at webcomics. ((As is so often the case. I’m not quite sure what inspires my obsession with webcomics, but the webcomic artists I read are really inspiring to me.)) These are serialized, produced as the artist/writer goes along, and by and large they weren’t all that great at first. The art is usually rougher at the beginning than at the end, the writing improves over time, and most of the artists I read remark on how they have improved since they began, or since last year, or over the last few months.

I wonder if I need to get something perfectly polished before putting it out there. What if I were to write and post as I went? Never worry about going back and fixing, or about having everything done before I publish.

The question I reached was, “What am I looking for? What’s my motivation for writing?” Yeah, I do it because I enjoy it, but is there something else? I don’t do it for money, nor exactly for fame. Rather, what I’m seeking is community, and I don’t so much want the community of fans ((Though that’d be great and I really appreciate those people.)) who enjoy my work and tell me so, but rather the community of people who are all doing the same thing: producing because they enjoy it and sharing freely what they do.

If that’s my motivation, what would the best method be: a long crafting of a work to publish after the final polish, or serialization with the recognition that my work will be rough at first and gradually improve? I’m beginning to wonder if I should be doing the latter rather than the former, on which my attention has been for the last two years.

To put it another way, if what I want is more like what webcomic artists have rather than what an established and published traditional author has, then maybe I ought to be doing what the webcomics are.

I’m not sure about it, but I’ve been thinking about it an awful lot lately.

2 thoughts on “What do we seek when we write?

  1. I’m pretty convinced that most authors don’t write in a vacuum. Think of all the thank-yous and dedications that they put in their books. But, for some reason, many people think it that they should write in a vacuum; or make music, or paint, or any creative act. It’s some desire that the finished product should come as a surprise. If other people got involved in the creation, it would spoil the ending; and what we want is to wow them with our creative genius instead of revealing the struggle it took to get there.

    1. The thank yous and dedications to those who supported them don’t necessarily mean those people were involved in the storyboarding, brainstorming, writing, or editing. One of the lessons taught writers (whether it’s right or wrong) is that you absolutely should not share what you’re writing about during development, not even to tell people about it, because you’ll take the energy you would be putting into writing into telling the story to other people instead. Then your motivation to write will drop because the most important people around you already know what you would be sharing with them.

      Not saying that teaching is correct, but it bears consideration. I’m thinking a hybrid is possible, and numerous examples I can think of give credence to that idea.

      Also, I think “we want to wow them with our creative genius” is perhaps a little cynical 😛 Most of the artists I know who don’t share do it out of fear of rejection, not out of pride and self-excitement.

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