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Monday, August 02, 2010

Why Are You Writing?

Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat, married a veteran, and now has four children, a Golden Retriever, and a Maltese Menace. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Her novels include Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and Nightshade, Discarded Heroes Book #1.

Ronie can be found at or

Carol Awards. Christy’s. RITAs. New York Times Bestseller.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of writing-related accolades and awards. And there are a gazillion and one authors vying for them.

My first book released 5 months ago, and I’ve found myself really examining the meaning of “success” since then. As you may have read in one of my earlier p
osts, within 6 weeks of that release, I was ready to walk away from writing. I’d had it. With the critics. With the process. With the marketing (I heard a lot of OORAHs there). With feeling so absolutely drained as I killed myself trying to market my first novel.

I had a long talk with my agent, Steve Laube, and even
alluded to the fact that maybe I wasn’t going to make it as an author if I'd already "failed." I think he wanted to slap me—or push me off the ledge I was standing on. Instead, he firmly but kindly told me that I was entirely too new in this game to even consider my “success” yet.

And this whole success thing brought me back to my tendency toward people-pleasing. Anyone who knows me also knows that I literally get sick at the thought of hurting someone or making them mad at me. So, as an author, when I see the sales aren’t quite what I’d hoped—and sometimes, far from it—I wonder why they don’t like me.

Really, I need to snap the neck on that beast.

Disillusionment over having crossed the proverbial line from “unpublished” to
“published” made me ask myself questions I’d asked before, but this time they held a new light—Is this really the career I want, one laden with those needling personalities who derive pleasure from bursting others’ bubbles? One doused with sometimes-brutal edits? One that has changed to now put a greater burden of marketing is heaped on the back of the author (which is really bad for me since any kind of “sales” makes me feel disingenuous—if I’m your friend, it’s because we’re friends, not because you bought my book!!).

It broke my heart to ask those questions because I felt ashamed of myself and unfaithful to the “mission.” But I had to face the hard issues, examine my heart/mind in pursuit of the goal and my future as a writer. I’m not a person who walks away from challenges. If I did, then why was I fighting in the first place? Either I believe I’m a writer for and with a purpose, or I’m seeking this dream for another reason—self glorification? Pride?—the thought pulled me up short.

Why am I writing?

C.S. Lewis wrote a letter to Arthur Greeves and in it, Lewis said:

I am sure that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development. If the impulse to write survives the hope of success, then one is among these. If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn.
Touché! “If the impulse to write survives the hope of success. . .” That’s it right there—at least for me. Will you still write even if you don’t succeed? If you don’t hit the bestseller list.

I remember standing in front of the books at Target one evening while my twins scoured the toy section. My husband and I were on the phone talking, and he asked me, “What if you never hit a bestseller list? Will you keep writing?”

The thought felt like an uppercut into my gut.

Although the thought of never reaching a bestseller list was painful and took some time to answer, I knew without a doubt that I would continue writing. Accolades, awards, affirmation. . .they are not why I’m writing (but they’re very nice, and no, I wouldn’t refuse them). But the reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of writers who never attain awards or recognition.

Perhaps the question for you is—what if you don’t get this manuscript published? Will you keep writing?

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

Staying “drunk” on writing is so very vital. Perhaps I haven’t imbibed enough lately. *grins*

Literary agent, Chip MacGregor recently posted a great article on his blog called “What is Success?”. For me, his post was extremely helpful. I realized I needed to establish more goals and get back in the saddle and start riding. . .er, writing.

But tell me...why are YOU writing? Are you struggling with the idea of "success" too? Please--someone, tell me I'm not alone. :-D


  1. What a candid and touching blog, Ronie. Thanks so much for writing this -- much food for thought for me. I loved Dead Reckoning!

  2. Hi Ronie, You're not alone...I've been dealing with my own demons lately. Thanks for writing this.

  3. Thanks, Judy and Deb! I appreciate your encouragement--we all need it. :-D HUGS and prayers for both of you in your writing careers!

  4. You're not alone at all. I've been struggling with the "why am I doing this" a lot lately. I am not published yet, but have written three novels and working on the third and fourth. I often wonder, what's the point? Why am I pouring all this effort into something that may never be published? The answer, I think, is that I love it. God gave me this gift and I need to use it. "Don't hide your light under a bushel." But we are so hammered with the need to "get published!" that we think all our dreams will come true. But your post really made me realize (again) that everything isn't roses once you are published. It's still a journey. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  5. Melissa--remember that every bed of roses has thorns. LOL Seriously, the journey can be beautiful if we look for the sun and smell the fragrance.

    Like Chip said is in his post on Success-we should be living a life of significance. For me, I also realized that I did not have goals (even though that wasn't the gist of his msg there) to work toward but we should never forget the journey, the significance of being on this earth for others. I have a shirt that says "it's not about me." I get so many comments on it.

  6. I read Chip's article too. I plan to keep a copy lying around to remind me. Today I feel like a success because my first eBook's just come out. But I want to still feel happy about getting published, even though it's not going to change anything in the bank account. Of course, maybe that means it's not significant, or maybe I should decide to define significance differently.

  7. Such a great and timeless post, Roni. Exactly what I'm dealing with right now and hitting a best-seller list doesn't change a thing. I'm getting ready to go back to nursing full-time, realizing that I don't like the unpredictability that is relying on writing to make a living. Succeed or not in the world's eyes, I have stories to tell, until I don't. Thanks for this. I'm with you. I think we all are.

  8. I write because I can't not write.

  9. I write because I love to write, and the Lord gave me such a desire for it, that I can't not write, hence the plethora of novels on file that will probably never see the light of day.

    Your post is so timely for me as I'm battling the marketing of my my series. I'd rather write and let someone else worry about book signings, blogs and such, but it's all a part of the business. With 4 novels and a novella in one year, that should spell success, but I've discovered the real work comes now.

  10. Ronie! Thanks for your transparency and for speaking what I've been feeling. It's been six weeks since my first novel released and suddenly it's like I've hit a wall. The party's over. I'm worn out and trying to find the energy to get excited about a new novel. And then I receive notes from readers quoting a line from my book saying, "Thanks, that line meant so much to me." Then I remember why I'm doing this. Not just for me, but because when I began this journey I said, "I want to make a difference." That trumps sales and awards and even exhaustion.

    Still, I'm with you. Totally relate and appreciate this post so much.

    Blessings, my friend.

  11. I just read your post aloud to my husband. He said, "Ah, your twin."

    Of course, I'm a tad older than you (a tad? Michael shakes his greyed head), and have accumulated so many unpublished works on hard drives and old floppy disks that I'd better love writing. My challenge has been to continue offering them up to the Lord to do with as He wills, not I.

  12. Thank you, Ronie, for your encouraging words. I loved Chip's blog post - my goodness, what an incredible read. I feel so much better today about my writing journey. :-)


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