Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Passion

By Amy

My daughter called me over to the television the other night. Her favorite author was being interviewed, discussing what it was to finish the series of books that had taken her 10 years to complete. Her books have been credited with invigorating the publishing industry, inspiring a generation of children to read -- and perhaps write--, and making the author one of the richest women in the UK.

I haven't yet read her books, blasphemy I know, so I started to walk away when the interviewer asked the author who she wrote for, the readers? The author's answer was profound. No, she said, for the story. Her vast audience may have wanted some to survive, others to die, but the author said she needed to write to suit the story first and foremost. I took a seat. Then the interviewer asked if she intended to continue writing. Many people watching probably expected her to say no, that her well of creativity had run dry or that she wanted to take some time to enjoy her excessive wealth. Instead, the author said she was already writing another book. She said it was a privilege to write without the expectation of publication.

Think about that for a minute.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and her book is already creating buzz in publishing circles. Her story is the dream many writers have while toiling away, alone, wondering if what they're creating has any merit. My friend's work was sent out on a Friday, and by Monday the offers started pouring into her agent. An auction ensued, trips to New York, meetings with her editor, the publisher, art department. Then the big news, hers would be the lead title. Who among us hasn't wanted to step into that glass slipper? I told my friend about the interview with the author, about the privilege of writing. She agreed. For all of the excitement of getting published, it's the euphoria writing inspires that moves us to our desks each morning. As badly as I want to write a book that will stand on the front table of every bookstore in America and across Europe, what I want more is to continue to enjoy the sheer ecstasy of emerging from my study, knowing I've just composed the best sentence I could.

I simply want to write.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

I saw that same interview--and got shivers just about the same time you did. I'm the other person in the US who hasn't read any of her books. . . . but I love how and why she writes--for the story, to be true to the characters, for the sheer joy of the craft.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Judy, when I get finished with the latest stack of TBR, I think I'll pick-up HP. Wasn't she engaging? I never expected such passion, I thought she would have been blase at this point. My respect zoomed for her and I'm now eager to read the books.


Melissa Amateis said...

How true. It's really not the whole publishing part of writing that keeps me going - although right now with an agent possibly about to bite it gets me to open the laptop - but it's the writing itself. I love crafting words. And if I never get published, I'll still be writing.

Larramie said...

Another non-HP follower here, but does it matter which books we read as long as they provide JOY...to the reader and writer as well?

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Melissa, good luck on the agent front. You know, of course, that those who get published are the ones who never gave up. Ever.

Larramie, I love JOY, but some of my favorite books left me with a deep and abiding sense of melancholy, occasionally tinged with a spot of hope. I think a good book elicits either empathy or introspection; the vey best inspire both. I suspect HP will leave me exhausted. Do you think you'll ever pick it up?


Lisa said...

Finally, a place where I can admit without shame or fear of ridicule that I have also not read HP. So many books, so little time. I admire her position on writing and like to believe that I do it for the same reason and if someday, I'm supposed to be published, I will. If it never happens, it's not supposed to and there will be a reason for that. Next up: To the Lighthouse.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, I have the sense that you'll be published. I love your writing voice so much.


Larramie said...

I, too, watched the interview, Amy. And, while enthralled by JK, I'm not into wizardry which can turn on you and cause havoc. OTOH, a Fairy Godmother's magic wand feels much safer.

Anonymous said...

Another HP non reader signing in.
I get all the HP news courtesy of my children; who of course want me to read the series.
My son announced yesterday that he had seen the Rowling interview and mentioned some highlights of it.

When I said to my son I would rather write a novel like The God of Small Things [ one of my favorites], my whole family turned on me, wife included and said I was out of my mind. Who wouldn't want to be in be in Rowling's shoes and her bank accounts.
The concensus was that I was making it up.
So much for being an honest writer.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I'd much rather have MY fairy godmother, Larramie.

Reality, honesty is everything is this world,don't you think?


Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

By the way, Lisa, would love your thoughts when you read To The Lighthouse. Wonderful book!


Unknown said...

Only part I disagree with is, "I write for the story." What does that mean exactly? It's unlear.
To me, that would be like the design engineer of a refrigerator saying, "I do it for the refrigerator."

Don't we all write for the reader? I always did. Over my long career--55 business books--I always regarded the customer as king. Same way when I came out of retirement to write my first novel, Six Hours Past Thursday. If I couldn't create something beneficial or entertaining for the reader, I had nothing to offer. The story is automatically taken care of when you "score" with customer (reader) satisfaction.

--Jack Payne

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,
I am Traveling as you know; yes I do believe as a writer that if at the end of the day; I am not pleased with what I write, I am not pleased, period. I'll still sell it if someone buys it.