Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why We Write

Everything I've ever needed to know about the creation of art, or at least everything I've felt I've ever needed to know, I learned from Tom Robbins. Imagine something that you would like to see in the world that doesn't already exist and then create it. It's that simple.

When we set out to open up Vagabondage Press, there was something that we wanted to see in the world. We wanted to see a writer-friendly publication that focused on the stories that happen inside our heads. We wanted to explore, document and celebrate the small changes that happen inside characters, inside people made real through craft, that turned their lives around. The creation of this has been, I must say, its own reward. 

But there's more to it than that. Having an audience that sees your creation and recognizes its worth, understands its intention and is moved through experiencing it... well, that's worth more than gold. We've gotten some great feedback from writers and readers both, and it never fails to put a spring in our step, make us try a bit harder, make us more mindful of what we're creating. It takes the sting out of not getting paid, because money simply can't do that.

I recently finished a novel of my own and sent it out for beta reading -- anonymously. I write under a pen name so my editing and publishing work isn't confused with my writing. Yes, I'm that insecure. I know good writing when I see it - unless it's mine.

(And yes, we do get a lot of great writing that we can't accept. I wish we could.)

I got back a glowing review. This piece, that I'd sweated over. This piece that I can't seem to write a selling query on. This piece that I'd buried on my hard drive and pretended didn't exist anymore. My beta loved it. He loved the characters. He read some parts of it twice.

I created something of worth, and somebody else understood its message and intention and was moved by reading it. I can't ask for more than that. Although it would nice to sell it, I'm happier that it was enjoyed and loved than I would have been if it had been 'monetized'.

I'd like to be able to do both. I'd like to see a lot more debut writers turn real emotional worth into a living -- rather than turn art into a commodity. It's something I've imagined.

What have you imagined that you'd like to see in the world?