Getting Over The Hump – Welcome Alan BaxterPosted: September 26, 2012
Please welcome Alan Baxter, author of RealmShift and MageSign, who reminds us how important readers are to storytellers. I couldn’t agree more that the business of bookselling can be incredibly frustrating at times, but it is those times when we connect with readers that truly inspire us to keep going.
Running Against The Wind
So CJ asked for guest posts about what motivates us to keep writing when things aren’t going so well. It set me to thinking about what really does drive me. First and foremost, I have the need to tell stories. I have no control over it, and it doesn’t go away. But that’s only half the deal. There’s no point in me telling stories if no one is reading them. Writers need readers like plants need rainfall – it sustains us and makes us grow.
In the face of constant rejection or low sales, however, we can often be left wondering when the hell the next rain shower might come. Sometimes we’d settle for a light mist, even a heavy dew. Anything to remind us that what we do is worthwhile and appreciated.
My motivation comes mainly from the knowledge that I’m constantly improving. Even in those lean times, when it seems like I can’t sell a story to anyone, or book sales are really down, I know, deep down, that I’m working on my craft, improving my skills and telling better stories. People didn’t buy anything of mine for a long time. Then, slowly, I started to make some sales. Then better and better sales, in all lengths of fiction. So I know I can do it, I know I can keep getting better and I know that the rejections will always far outweigh the acceptances. But all the time I can push myself and see better results, I’m going to keep pushing.
I reassure myself with the knowledge that pretty much every other writer I know goes through the same stuff. And I know a lot of writers. We’re all striving to be better, we’re all facing regular rejection and we’re all persevering, determined in the knowledge that if we keep at it and keep getting better, we’ll keep making sales. However infrequent they may be.
The writers who sell books by the million and can get pretty much anything they write published are very few and far between. There are so many more midlisters and up-and-comers out there working their arses off for some recognition. I know that I always have stories to tell. I know that I’ll keep writing, no matter what. So I’ll be damned if I won’t keep working hard to sell those stories and get ever more readers.
And if I never sell another story or book, if I never get another reader, so what? That would be very sad, and, honestly pretty unlikely, but I’m a writer. It’s what I do. If I only did it for the readers, the sales and the accolades, I’d have given up a long time ago. Those things are thin on the ground most of the time. I do it because I do it. It’s a part of what defines me. And the beauty is, I know there are people out there reading and enjoying my work, and I know, if I keep at it, there will be more. That’s motivation enough, aside from my inability not to write anyway.
It’s a special kind of insanity that we writers are victims of, but there’s nothing we can do about it. We may as well embrace it.
Alan is the author of the contemporary dark fantasy novels, RealmShift and MageSign (Gryphonwood Press), and around 40 short stories in a variety of journals and anthologies worldwide. He’s currently trying to find a publisher for his third novel and working hard on his fourth and fifth. Learn more about him and his writing at www.alanbaxteronline.com