Please welcome Mark Terry, author of the Derek Stillwater novels. The next installment, THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS,  is available THIS WEEK, so click over and buy yer one. Actually, buy yer several. Mark's a helluva a writer and Derek is one tough hottie. 
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Is Writing Fun?
By Mark Terry

From time to time I ask myself: Are you having fun?

Actually, that’s a pretty complicated question for me. Because I make my living writing, hence, it’s work – it’s not something I can NOT do without certain repercussions, namely, I won’t make enough money to continue to go to work in a T-shirt and shorts and no shoes. I’ll have to go out and find a real job, assuming anyone would hire me after being out of the market for seven years.

I'm reasonably confident that most writers get into this gig because they thought it might be fun. There may have been some ego involved and there may have been some dreams of big money, but you just don't keep at it if you don't enjoy the process.

One of the things I've discovered about writing for a living is that money concerns can be pretty debilitating to the creative process. There's a story about Mickey Spillane who was living on an island somewhere warm. He couldn't get any ideas for a story and had some version of writer's block. No story would gel, he just couldn’t get anything written. Then he got a call from his accountant telling him he was running out of money and faster than you can say "gratuitous sex and violence" the Mickster had plenty of story ideas.

I think most of us tend to work in the reverse, actually. What starts out as pursuit of things that interest us can get warped by pursuit of things that will sell. It's nice when they overlap.

My most common versions of writer's block occur when I allow myself to think something won't sell or get published. Granted, that’s changed significantly with the growth in e-book self-publishing. If something won’t sell, it’s not a major chore to commission cover art and get your manuscript professional designed for e-publishing voila, off you go. Still, for me, it can sometimes be hard to pursue a story just for the sake of the story.

I’ve been enjoying writing fiction more lately without too much thought of publication. I’m not able to take myself back, back, back to those heady days when it was all potential and I was drunk on storytelling, but I’m enjoying the process more when I don’t treat it like a job.

Although … it is my job.

Is writing fun for you?


Mark Terry said...

Thanks for having me, Betsy!

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

No problem! I can't wait to read the book!

Marne said...

I think I'd like to be on that island springing ideas with Mickey Spillane. I love writing. I'd like to do more of it. My biggest roadblock? Myself (which is pretty much what you're talking about). Funny how that works. Ah well. Good luck with your next novel and Congratulations! (I don't think any author tires of hearing that one word ;-))

Mark Terry said...

Oh, I think it's well-established that I'm most own worst enemy. But thanks for the kind regards.

Erica Orloff said...

Money woes also put me in a funk as far as creative process. The fact that I get quite a bit of editing work and ghosting work means I often weigh--make money doing THIS . . . versus toy around on my own stuff which may--or may not--sell.

Writing is, for me, fun about 80% of the time--mostly when I can leave the aforementioned funk out of it.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I agree. I'm in the middle of writing the climax of my latest book, a book who's words feel as if they have to birth through the eye of the needle but that gives me great satisfaction as they do, and I just got this great writing gig. So. More money. But also just a reminder that this is a job, not just play.

Mark Terry said...

Erica, I'd say it's fun about 80% of the time, at least. I often find myself saying (out loud), "Damn, I'm lucky." And 80% seems about right. For the most part I even like doing the drudgery stuff, although there are some gigs where I just have to groan, but really, it's 80%+ good.