What makes a writer write?

Having worked in publishing I've been used to working in the evenings and at weekends doing submission reading. There was never really time to do this during office hours.  Because of this and the limited publication slots where we could place things I became a really tough audience to satisfy. You develop quite a focus when it's your time you're giving up - and the pressure of publishing means that even if you love something you may not get it through a business meeting. So if you're not fully engaged within the first three chapters then you're probably not going to be. Now that may be a mismatch between you and the script, whereas someone else may adore it - it's very personal thing.

We used to get maybe three or four new submissions a week. The vast majority through agents. Now, as an agent myself, I realise how many scripts they themselves were reading to cherry pick the ones to send through to me as an editor. While some may be good, others, maybe not quite as suitable for my tastes, the one thing I'm taking away from the volume of submissions I've received so far is how many people want/need to write.

I've always been in awe of those who can actually sit down and complete a full manuscript.  I know I couldn't. I can edit the hell out of a story but write one myself? I'd never get past page one without editing the story out of it! I also have always been aware of how terrifying it must be to send out that script, something that's been worked on for, sometimes, years. That's been sweated over. Read. Re-read. Edited. Torn to shreds and started again.  I'm sure there will have been tears and blood shed over that script at some stage. So to send that out to a complete stranger for them to make the decision as to whether it's marketable or not must be a little like waiting for Caesar to point thumb up or down at the gladiatorial games. (I'm not btw comparing myself to Caesar - I'm not that power-mad . . . yet).

Caesar thumb.jpg

So what is it that makes an author sit down and actually write? Is it dreams of publication and fame? Hardly. Most writers are fully aware that only one or two authors reach a celebrity status where films, merchandise and overwhelming popularity make them a household name. Is it the money? Again, anyone who thinks they're going to be able to give up the day job and sun themselves on their own personal island probably should be looking for another line of work. No. What I know from having spoken to authors, unpublished and published is that writing is a compulsion. They couldn't not do it. They do it in their spare time.  They make sacrifices in their personal life to get those words down on paper. Even if they don't get published. Even if they don't get paid. They have a story they need to write and they write it. And I think that is amazing.

So to all those writers out there. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep writing. If you're desperate to share your story with the world then keep sending it out there. If one agent/publisher doesn't like it, send it to another. And another. And remember how many times authors like J K Rowling and E L James received a rejection letter. At the end of the day you know that publication, traditionally or otherwise, isn't the be all and end all. You don't need other people's validation or affirmation that what you've done is good. It is good because you've created something. A new story. A new world. And populated it with characters from your own imagination. That's more than most people can say.