Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Bother Writing: A Guest Post by Kenneth Weene

 (author of Widow’s Walk and Memoirs From the Asylum)

Why bother? Isn’t it easier to not write, not get frustrated with all those rejection letters, the people who think you should have changed this character or that outcome? Then there’s the P.R., the endless battle to get your book noticed.
You can obsess about your standing on Amazon, not realizing that just one order may swing your title fifty places on that list. You can contact blogger after blogger: “Please give my book some space.” Wait – I can get a pod-cast. How many listeners? Who knows.
Finally, the big moment – the royalty check for the quarter arrives. Trepidatiously you open it. There it is, barely enough to take your sweetheart out for burgers and fries or maybe hotdogs and chips. You remind yourself that getting rich was never the reason. Of course, deep in your heart you’re damning the gods because you haven’t received a film offer, one you so richly deserve and that would actually put some money in your pocket.
So, I ask again, why bother? Why write? Maybe you should give up. You could find a different obsession, something that would also take up hours of your time. You could learn to play a musical instrument. You could work on your yoga. You could …
Forget it. You have to get back to that new short story, the one about the narrators ex-wife’s second ex-husband’s affair with the girl who turned out to be an agent of the Mossad who is following a Hamas-linked Imam, who it turns out …
Well, maybe you’ll put that plot on hold and find something a bit more believable.
Computer time.
First you do your email. There might be an opportunity to do some more marketing of the book you already have out. Maybe there’ll be an acceptance for those poems you sent out. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Lots of spam. Your nephew wonders how your writing is going. A couple of Facebook friends have posted to your wall. You work through the emails. It’s easier than actually coming up with something, so you even send out a couple of hellos. Then back to Facebook, right? An hour passes reading posts, making comments, watching Youtube clips that have been shared.
More mail has come in. Check it out. Repeat.
Wasted morning. Why do I bother? goes through your mind like a neon sign.
You imagine a kid, a teenager, gawking up at that neon sign. He’s in a big city, obviously new there. Hasn’t got a clue.
Why’s he there? A runaway? No, too trite. Long pause – long enough so the computer screen has gone dark. That doesn’t matter, you’re staring out the window and all you can see is that scene in your imagination.
Suddenly it hits you. This kid, this cornpone, country kid has come to the big city because he’s going to the conservatory. Yeah, he’s a musician, not just a musician, but a gifted … a gifted what, flutist? (Nah, too feminine for a story.) guitarist? (trite) pianist (That would do, but do I know enough about piano? Piano player stories have to be technically correct.) Trumpet, no, no, saxophone.  That’s it he’s a gifted sax player come to the conservatory. He’s got a girl back home, one he really loves, or at least he thinks he does. And, he’s missing her right now. He’s staring at that sign and feeling overwhelmed, confused, lost. He wishes she were here with him.
What’s he looking at? A phone ad. Yeah, he’s missing her and thinking about that phone ad.
Is he already accepted at the conservatory? No. He’s here for the audition. Got his sax right in his hand. So he can screw it up if he …
Yeah, that’s the conflict. How to heighten …? Somebody playing on the street. The downside, right in front of him. Make it a trumpet player.
That’s it, the beginning.
You hit a key. The computer screen comes back. Get out of email. Word. Blank document. Set margins. Set spacing. A moment. Do you want courier or times new roman? Then it begins. You begin. Words start to jet from your fingers onto the screen. You are no longer confused, no longer unsure. You are writing. You are a writer. It is what you do. That is the why, the only one that matters. You bother because it is you.

Kenneth Weene’s second novel, Memoirs From the Asylum(Published by All Things That Matter Press)is now available on Amazon.

His first novel, Widow’s Walk (also from ATTMP) is also available on Amazon

Ken’s short stories and poetry can be found throughout the web and in print. His website

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