The Joyful Process of Writing

Paul Harding, Pulitzer-prize winning author of Tinkers, revealed in The Writer, December 2013, p. 31, tip #9, that his writing process is complicated and messy. Yet he revels in writing and rewriting every sentence at least a dozen different ways.He advises students to focus on the writing itself—not publication, not readers. 

This advice to writers to focus on the writing rather than publication or readers resonates with me. Over the decades I have found immense joy in the commitment to writing stories. The rewriting process may be, at times, tedious but there is an underlying joy when it comes out better, and the characters stop whispering in my ear. I have written without real consideration that any of my stories would be published until recently. The stories I am readying for publication are only “ready” because I concentrated on the writing of them first; I committed to getting them on paper or screen in the best condition possible and then I recognized that someone else should look at them and guide me to rewrite yet again, and again. I am proud of the stories I have written and will write because it is the writing of them which brings me joy.

Do you find joy in your writing or is it a chore?


Sharing the Declaration of Indie-Pendence

While researching authors who might be interested in reading my manuscript for The Blood and consenting to do an endorsement for the cover when it gets published early in 2014, I found this on a blog by James Scott Bell. Yes, I realize it was originally posted 18 months ago but it still resonates with truth. We all should be respectful no matter the publishing choices of an author. Write because you must and share/publish as fits YOU.

Declaration of Indie-Pendence

The Revolution is here, of course. The tea has been thrown in the harbor, and lanterns placed in the belfry. In many ways the self-publishing boom is like those heady days of liberation in our own country’s history, with possibilities seemingly endless, fresh territories waiting to be explored.

Plus, we have not yet settled on the “one best way of doing things,” i.e., a Constitution. In fact, we’ve barely begun our Federalist Papers.

Yet the irascible, voluble J. A. Konrath has issued a Declaration of Independence from traditional publishing (scroll down toward the end to read it, and have your asbestos glasses on).

Note, the Konrath Declaration has not yet been ratified. There are other drafts in the pipeline, awaiting debate. In fact, I had written one up a few months ago, and now seems the perfect time to have it considered by the people and their representatives. So here goes:

Declaration of Indie-Pendence

When in the course of business events, it becomes necessary for writers to dissolve the exclusive bands which have connected them to an industry, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of creativity and of creativity’s Source entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of reading kind requires that they should declare the causes which compel them to a new way of doing business.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers are created to tell stories, that they are endowed by their imaginations with certain unalienable rights, that among these are writing books, getting them published and making some dough. That to secure these rights, distribution systems are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the marketplace. And that whenever an alternative system arises that provides writers with potential additional income, it is the right of those writers to choose to see what gives.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate what the best path is to pursue. But that there are different paths now is a fact, and the writer is free to further his career and earn a living in whatever way seems fittest and most just.

Let certain facts be submitted to a candid world:

– There is now no one way to publish, and there never will be again.

– The traditional publishing industry is still viable, but must become more flexible toward writers.

– Writers and their agents must assume a greater and more informed vigor in negotiations. Editors and industry reps must be equally prepared to negotiate, for it is in their long term interest to nurture new writers. Without new writers, there will be no traditional industry left.

– The new term for traditional publishing should be “creative partnership.” And both those words should be taken seriously.

– Writers who are traditionally published must begin to set aside the gentle fantasy that they are better than self-published writers by definition.

– Self-published writers must set aside their unbridled lust to set fire to the walls of the Forbidden City and bay at the moon.

– Writers of any stripe must continue to hone their craft and write the best books they can. Every time out. No exceptions.

We writers, therefore, appealing to the supreme value of independence and creativity, do solemnly declare that we are free; that we are absolved from all allegiance to one way of doing things, and that as full, free and responsible beings we have the right to enter into any deal we think is best. That may be indie publishing. That may be traditional publishing. It may be a mix of both. But it will be a free choice.

For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the power of the written word, we mutually pledge to each other—and the reading public—our books, our stories and our sacred calling.

What are your thoughts?

You can find more writings from James Scott Bell’s blog The Fevered Brain of JSB at