At our most recent writing group meeting, Mark (our newest member) asked me, “Why do you want your novel to be published? Is it for fame? Validation? Money? Accomplishment?”
An interesting question.
Fame doesn’t interest me. I’d like my stories to be read, of course, but I don’t care about being in the spotlight for the sake of being in the spotlight. If I’d wanted to be famous, I could have chosen more spotlight-y behavior than becoming a person who scribbles all the time. Money is always nice to have—but I rely on my full-time job for a paycheck. My articles and blog posts are published at work, which validates my belief that I can write.
So, then, why does it rankle that my first publishable novel (not my first few amateurish works) has not been published yet? Why do I want the novel published? I have a few reasons.
Books are meant to be published. I see publication as being the normal outcome for a finished piece of writing. If you look at the life cycle of a written piece, the last stage is publication. A writer expects it to complete the cycle. Otherwise, it feels much like planting a seed, watering it, nurturing the soil, weeding its area… and never seeing it bloom.
Conversations should be two-way. If you write a book and do not publish it, you are talking to yourself. You’ve said something to the air. Your reader is the other half of the conversation, and she is needed. (Yes, books also are therapeutic and immensely help writers better understand the world… but at the end of the day, writers want their work read by others.)
You want people to get to know your make-believe friends. Just like I have real-life friends who I introduce to other friends, I’d like people to meet my make-believe friends. “Get to know Isabela. She’s icy at first, but you’ll grow to love her…”
You want your voice to be heard by others. You know how in movies, a character will stand up amid the madding crowd and shout, “I have something to say! Can I say something?” And, if it’s a Capra movie, everyone will finally shut up, and the main character will break into a moving speech. That’s what getting a novel published would be like for me. It’s getting my voice heard, even if for just a moment, amid the noise.
At the heart of it, writers write because they need to tell a story... and getting published is knowing that someone will hear it.
Why do you want to be published? What are your expectations or dreams or hopes?