“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
― Stephen King, On Writing
It's been a year since I finished writing my first novel. I'm about to release a third, and I've never been more nervous.
I'm excited, I'm thrilled, I'm over the moon with the knowledge that the small pile of composition notebooks is now compiled into the first novel of a series. It took only twenty-four years. But the novel is now a reality that has not sunk in, and old and new fears haunt my mind over this achievement, as crazy as that sounds. The truth is, at some point, something started changing and that change made me afraid.
I wondered if my biggest fear was whether the hypercritical minds like the story or not. I wondered if my biggest fear was ending up with a pile of unsold novels, mocking my efforts each time I looked at it. I wondered if I feared the first inevitable bad review.
Honestly, I've been told Gaze will never sell because of its length. I've been told Next Chapter is too controversial to market. I've been told stories about immigrants are a dime a dozen, just like vampire romances and zombie apocalypses. I actually sat down one night to think, hmm, let's see, what will sell? And that's when it hit me.
My biggest fear is forgetting why I started writing.
I was working on my new project, developing a character and considering situations, thinking more along the lines of a market when it hit me that I did not write my first novels that way. I did not browse through periodicals of the state of the book market. I did not study the latest trends, and I did not have a cover nor title in mind. I just wrote.
Looking through the 50k odd words, I couldn't find anything that altered my breath or made me grin. Nothing.
I discovered I was actually conscientious of verbal mechanics, sentence tone and rhythm, active voice, generating tension on every page, and show vs. tell arguments. I put so much emphasis on those elements that I was ultimately not feeling the story. I was writing a book without a soul.
I stopped and asked myself, "What kind of writer am I?" And I couldn't come up with an answer.
I can't even adhere to a specific genre because as soon as I'm faced with limitations or parameters, the rebel in me says "%&#$ that," and I fill the pages with the sole purpose of not conforming to any such limits.
I just write.
When I wrote The Gaze, I did not do it for fame or fortune. I certainly didn't do it to impress my friends and gain new ones. I just wrote because a character named Samantha Reddick had a story to tell, and she chose me as her instrument. I just wrote.
Samantha's story doesn't really fit any particular model other than fiction. It's fiction riding an undercurrent of drama, a dash of suspense, a bucketful of romance, a sprinkle of humor, and a twisting ride filled with scenes that evoke a laugh, a scream of sheer frustration, the stinging of unshed tears, and the blubbering sobs of those that fall. I am only expressing what Samantha's story put ME through.
I may never write another character as deeply flawed as her. She is wrong in so many ways, evil at times, but damn if I don't feel for her, for everything she fought, for all she put herself through, for all she taught me...
That was the reason I wrote. I did not know it at the time, but I hoped, I wanted, another person to feel what I felt upon composing the story though I do entertain goals and daydreams.
Maybe one day, one piece I write will find its way to enough readers that will grant me a respite from the daily grind, and offer me enough to make possible some of the dreams I have. Maybe one day I'll be offered a table at a ritzy restaurant for nothing more than an autograph. Maybe one day, an establishment may recognize my efforts and allow me fifteen seconds in the spot light. We all hope for that one day. I'm no exception.
But if that's the reason I write then I've lost sight of the kind of author I want to be, the kind of author I promised myself to be.
I don't want to copy someone else's style and voice because they produced the latest script for a Hollywood blockbuster. I don't want to draw from the tragedy of others and line my pockets with someone's tears. I don't want to exploit the lack of imagination our world is plagued with for the sake of making a buck.
I want to write phrases that will inspire people to post them on Facebook. I want to write a piece that will make the reader sigh with the longing for just one more word. I want to write for someone not to remember my name and follow me on the networks; I want to write for someone who absorbs every emotion I infused in that page, and I want them to know the characters by name, to see them in their minds, and miss them when they close that cover.
I want to be an author that writes with the hope of enriching another's life as well as his own. Like Stephen King says, I want to get happy.
I want to be a pure writer.
And pure writers just write.
Javier A. Robayo