People who know I came from a successful business career often ask me this question. The easiest way to begin is to answer in the reverse. I do not write to gain fame and riches though I would love to have a New York Times number one best-seller and the royalties and adulation it would bring. I do not write so that I can hobnob with the cool kids or the inside sanctum of the literati. I do not write so I can talk on national TV with Matt Lauer or Oprah... Don't misunderstand me all those things would be great fun and I have no lack of ego so they would admittedly be gratifying. I have had the good fortune to be successful in my pre-writing life so putting words to paper does not feed the kids or pay the mortgage. I don't write to earn a living.
So then—you're asking by now why do you spend thousands of hours brooding over a novel crafting it till you're satisfied it's a piece worthy of sending to your readers?
The answer is patently simple... I love telling stories and (hopefully) the enjoyment they bring. I always have. I am a baby-boomer and grew up on folklore of WWII so I wrote my first short story about PT boats when I was twelve. I was enough of a nerd and a mediocre athlete so I toiled over the school paper while others wore the highly coveted school letter on their jackets.
I had the great good fortune to have emotive, enthusiastic English teachers in high school and at the undergraduate collegiate level who pushed and prodded me to the limit, bless them. Life, the military, and my growing family precluded any idea of seriously pursuing writing as anything other than a pastime or part of my job, but I always joked that someday I would write a great American novel knowing it had been done more than once.
I had the good fortune to leave my business early and low and behold though it took many false starts, rejections, and the bolstering loyalty of supportive family, friends, and fellow authors, after several years my long dormant dream became a reality when I got what's referred to in publishing as "the call!"
And though I write slowly, I've averaged about a novel a year over the last five. Three have been published, two have been Amazon best-sellers and my debut novel was a finalist in a prestigious awards competition.
So why do I continue? Well... though I haven't had that date on the Today show yet I have achieved some recognition, made so many wonderful writing friends I've lost track, helped to run a respected writing organization, and even taught creative writing at the junior college level.
And though I am not Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham I have had my share of rewarding "fan" encounters. I could go on, but I hope you get my point. I began this journey because I loved telling my stories and somewhere along the line it seemed that those who read my work liked them, too.
Part of it is ego. Everyone who crafts a story and asks another to read it feels he/she has something worthy of telling. But much of it is simply the enjoyment of discovering that some readers out there have enjoyed our work enough that it gave them pleasure and perhaps a respite from this fast-paced, chaotic, often frustrating world.
Matt and Oprah... eat your hearts out. NY Times book editors I have not thrown in the towel but for now, I'm happy doing what I do. Perhaps we'll have a date sometime in the future...
Enjoy this interesting winter!
Stay safe, warm and dry!
Kevin V. Symmons