A short time ago I received an interesting email from my good friend Bob in Boston. I have known him and his wife for quite a few years. We’ve always enjoyed a great friendship with the core being Paris and my writing. I would like to share with you his recent email to me.
I was at lunch today with a couple of friends (gay couple in their 30’s). We were talking about Bruce Jenner (call me Caitlyn) and the subject turned to a transgender friend of theirs. They said he/she had been inspired by a book, Contessa that they all had read. I said I believe I know the author…they said it is written by Jack Fitzgerald; do you know the book? I said I know Jack…they said personally? I said yes. They were all excited and I proceeded to tell them about your blog and other books you have written. As I write this, I am still smiling. At one point they even asked “if we get to Palm Springs could we visit his estate?” I told them if they plan a trip I would give them your phone number but you prefer lunches or dinners as a guest. One said, authors can be eccentric and we would not want to intrude. Well, I said all you can do is call and see.
I was so pleased with Bob’s email that I shared it with another friend of mine. He wrote the following back to me:
That’s a great story. Perhaps even blog-worthy. A blog about the rewards of writing —other than monetary.
So, here I am taking Pete’s advice and writing today’s blog which is called THE REWARDS OF WRITING
The foremost reward in writing is to try and make a living off of your words. This in itself is a major return in exchange for your time and effort. It is the proof that turns you from an amateur into a professional. Beyond the check though is a different kind of reward. This is called “the personal award. “
Most writers I know carry a purpose into this profession. This mission causes them to choose writing above other means of earning a living.
The first group of writers is the social investigator. At the bottom of this person’s psyche is the calling to make social changes in areas they believe need addressing. These issues burn their butts and turn into the raison d’être for their becoming a writer.
The second group is the natural-born storyteller. Down through the ages, we have always had professional storytellers in Indian tribes or bands of natives in Africa. Before writing appeared on the scene, these oral storytellers were the historians of their culture. This sort of person has always existed in all cultures. Their present-day counterpart is busy telling historical stories such as GONE WITH THE WIND and ROOTS or “what ifs” such as Sci Fi, mysteries, thrillers or love stories a la the romance novels.
A third group of writers has appeared over the ages. These people write for the purposes of self-fulfillment and their own entertainment. Their reward is just to finish the project. Their desired outcome is only to focus on the creative side of the job. They never try for the monetary part. Writing becomes their private kingdom and this satisfies them totally. Some consider themselves above the crassness of commercial writing.
I will have to admit that I belong to the first group. Even as a child, I saw social injustices afoot and they interested me the most about life. I loved fairy tales which seemed to have a social premise and presented themes to live by. When I began writing at the age of ten, I was already for the little guy, the person in society who got dealt an unfair hand. I was a natural-born witch hunter like in all of those fairy tales. So, success to me as a writer was two-pronged: material and thematic. Yes, I was extremely pleased the first time I received a check for $5,000 for writing but was just as pleased when people connected with the life themes at the bottom of my writing.
In the email from my friend Bob, people I don’t know had read my book. One of them had even gained a pathway to better living via what was read in my book. Such comments tell you if you have done your job or not. Readers make comments on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online and these can become great indicators of how your writing is being accepted.
Here are two comments gleamed from these online giants. I chose them because, first of all , I do not know who wrote them. Secondly, they totally got the reason my book CONTESSA even exists. ( I know to some I will sound egotistical and self-absorbed by citing these statements.) Even so, I am pleased that these two readers of my book were totally with me on my journey of writing it. This is the sort of reward that makes a socially-themed writer validated in his or her own eyes.
(Amazon) “Contessa is the most touching book I have ever read. I was unable to put it down until i had finished it. I had gotten so immersed in the story that after I had finished it, it took another week to get over it. It affected me more than anything I had ever read before. This book gave me hope for my life! Her story is one of such success, in career and mainly in friendships. This is a truly wonderful story of overcoming extreme hatred and surviving through anything. Read it. It may open or change your mind, or at least allow you to understand!”
(Barnes & Noble) “If sexual matters offend you, frighten you or annoy you, you are one of the people who stands to benefit the most from reading ‘Contessa’. It opened my eyes a lot—not to mention my heart and my scope. I am so glad this book exists and that I had the opportunity to read it.”
A successful writer must have both material and raison d’être justification for his or her writing. This goes for the investigators, the storytellers and the writers who strictly write for money. Even the romance books have a theme and the authors who mostly are writing for wealth are still very gratified if a reader sees some social theme in their work.
Writing a novel, short story, stage play or screenplay is a challenge. The process requires a lot of mental as well as physical effort. It is a crapshoot at best and requires not only the time, effort and energy to birth it but you must have equal amounts of time to interest an agent or publisher in your work. Once your creation does find a home (publisher, stage or screen) you must do all you can to help make it a financial success. Once those hurdles are taken care of, you can then relax and enjoy the connection you hopefully have established with your readers and viewers.
Writers and artists rarely have an easy life at the beginning of their careers. One thing that encourages them more than anything else is that they have connected with their readers and that the reason they wrote the work has been appreciated. This is almost as important as the paycheck.
Writers sacrifice a lot to have the liberty and flexibility to work on their passions, interests and social interests.. Very few guidelines exist when it comes to the use of the imagination. Writing is a bit like anarchy. It is up to you to tame the mayhem that is in your mind. With talent and luck on your side, you can reap many rewards.