The Cost Of Writing

How writing has been wonderful and hurtful for me

I have come to love writing and fiction is fun to write. I’ve enjoyed the process of developing the story, revising and editing it. I’ve had the joy of receiving a letter from a publisher saying they want to publish my book and the fun of publishing novels myself. It takes a lot of time. There is a steep learning curve that presents a fun challenge. I’m not bad at doing all this but not great either. I know that I’m not a Hemmingway or John Grisham. It doesn’t mean I should quit but writing takes its toll as well. The time spent doing all those things is time not spent with your loved ones. Publishing doesn’t have to cost much but doing it well probably will cost a great deal. I’m convinced that a good writer can make money if they are willing to write what the public wants, not what they want to write. I wanted to write from my heart and this means competing with thousands of other authors in a similar genre. I sold books but didn’t really make money. I haven’t been in it to make money but who doesn’t hope to hit the “big time”?

There is another cost to writing that may only affect me. I suspect it impacts all writers to a certain degree but I only know how it has impacted my life and my personality. Being a “writer” or “author” can become a point of pride. Yes, we should be proud of our accomplishments but writing demands pride and self-promotion. To get a publisher interested, an author must sell their wares. This means building up the product as much as possible. Today, it also means developing a wide social network using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, and others to show a publisher that someone will actually buy your books and they won’t lose money.

If you self-publish, you must be even more intentional in self-promotions. Books rarely sell themselves, though there are examples where the author has had buyers long before they could find a publisher. To publish a book yourself requires marketing, knowledge that most authors don’t have. Thus, many people want to teach us how to market. This, of course, costs money providing an income for marketing educators. They write books about how to market books, thus making money from other authors. We are told that we must speak often about our novels. We should do book signings, speak before the Elks Club. We should read to children so that their parents may become interested in our books. I often asked people, “What are you reading?” as a way to introduce my novels. I’ve sold books on airplanes, at craft shows, and book signings this way but I never saw how that was changing me.

If people see you as constantly promoting yourself, what do they think of you? “Oh, he’s a noted author?” “I’m so impressed with him that I want to buy his books?” More likely they think, “There he goes again, talking about his dumb novels.”

I enjoyed talking about writing and the novels I had written. It is fun. It is fulfilling. People seem to like talking to authors but it built my ego faster than my bank account.

I started writing for the sake of writing. It was enjoyable. I didn’t think about publishing for a long time. It became more than a fun thing to do. It filled my time. I began to try harder and harder to write a great novel so I could become a best-seller. I may write well but selling is not my forte and I don’t need to build my ego. It gets in the way of relationships. So, I am taking a break from writing novels. Maybe I’ll write more here on this blog. People have told me, “Write what you know.” I know medicine and have a lot of experience there. Perhaps I should focus on that. Maybe I’ll write my private thoughts only for me, before God in a journal. I certainly have a lot to answer to Him. I know that my world should revolve around Him and not myself. A lesson I have not learned well, even now in my 64th year.

What do you think?

I welcome your thoughts and input here. They may give me inspiration about what writing I should do. Have a great weekend and stay safe, at home.

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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