Why Publish? Why Write?



My head’s swirling. I’m editing, rewriting, drafting, doing other projects, maintaining a rather hectic if not torrid pace when I’m suddenly stopped cold by a question.


Why do I want to publish?


I have three novels and a non-fiction book published. A fourth novel and a collection of stories are in the works. 


Why?


It’s not as if the novels have been so wildly successful that I can live off the royalties. So why am I doing this again, when each novel has turned out to be far more of a wrestling match than I expected?


Is it because I feel called by God to do this? Actually, no. I’ve talked before about “being called” to be a writer, and I’ve never heard that call. My call is the call of every Christian – to know God, and to honor and serve God in all I do. That includes my family, my friends, my job, my church, people who don’t particularly like me, and how I deal with rudeness and trials and setbacks and successes. That includes writing, too, and publishing a second or a fourth novel. But I’ve ever felt “called” to publish.


Is it personal pride or vanity? I think the answer to that question is also no. Publishing a book is to travel to the land of disappointments, unmet expectations, surprises, uplifting encouragements and depressing discouragements. The world is not going to beat a path to my door. I’m not going to get oohed and aahed over at writers’ conferences. No, publishing a book isn’t about pride or vanity. If that is even a part of it, you’re going to be brought down to reality pretty quickly. 


The fact is, I knew all of this going into it. I had seen enough of others’ experiences to know what to expect. It’s a trial for first-time novelists, but even well-established ones find themselves with a large, well known and respected publisher who overlooks marketing (except for a press release), or editors suddenly changing and the latest manuscript of no interest to the new editor, or the publicity firm dropping the ball, or a million other things. 


So, unless your name is Karen Kinsgbury or Max Lucado or Stephen King or John Grisham, you can’t take anything for granted (and I suspect even those authors can’t take anything for granted).


So why do I want to publish?


The reason is simple. I have a story to tell, a story that’s been part of my life for a decade or more, and it was and is time to push it out and let others see it. 


In Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity and Writing, L.L. Barkat has some good advice about publishing:


Learn if you’re really ready to tackle the story you want to write. Sometimes you need to calculate the cost, and I’m not speaking of the financial cost but the emotional and even spiritual cost. The story you have to tell may still be too raw, too “unborn.”


Write for small audiences first. 


Learn how to connect (or network) and how to hold back or “not network” – there are ways to “not network”). 


Understanding the economics of publishing – what a publisher has to risk and what you have to risk if you self-publish.


I followed some of this advice. But for what advice I didn’t follow, I knew I wasn’t following it. And I knew why. 


I still went forward.


I had a story to tell.


Photograph by Hannah Olinger via Unsplash. Used with permission.

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