For Whom Am I Writing?
By Paul Grainger

Have you ever asked yourself this question? I think it is worth asking, because it might help you to put your writing activities into some form of perspective.

Writing, writing creatively, is an enjoyable and at the same time challenging occupation which has different levels of satisfaction. One writes initially, I suppose, for oneself, as a form of amusement: some verse, a short story, whatever. The result is pleasing to you, so you want to share it with family or friends. If there is a favourable response (even though you may not be hearing the truth) you are encouraged to write more – and even buy and study a book about creative writing. The first stage has been reached; you are beginning to take your own work seriously.

As you do more writing, it seems logical to wonder how your efforts measure up against those of others, and a writers’ group provides an outlet for your curiosity. At such a meeting of writers you can expect to receive a fair and honest appraisal: your faults may be gently pointed out to you and your strengths commended.

You may be tempted to rest your case, happy that your writing ability is being acknowledged by your peers. But then words like ‘workshop’, ‘competition’ and ‘publishing’ rear their heads; activities designed to further test your mettle. Participation is purely voluntary, but you know, don’t you, that success in these activities is viewed, as much by your fellow writers as by yourself, as a further measure of your ‘achievement’? (A word which is gradually taking over from ‘satisfaction’ as the driving force of your writing)

Then you might have a success; a minor prize, perhaps a monetary reward, that serves to motivate you still further, and you begin to imagine that a novel is within your sights. The writing, acceptance and publication of a novel is seen by some as the ‘holy grail’ of creative writing – something to which we should all aspire. That may be so, but not many writers have the ability and/or the stamina to get so far. The roads to publishing houses are (figuratively) littered with unfinished and rejected manuscripts.

Time, perhaps, to set your own limitations. Enjoy some small publishing successes (whereby your work is actually being read by others) and settle for the esteem in which you’re held by your peers. Rather that than taking the one extra step which results in you souring (perhaps forever) your taste for writing?

Paul Grainger
Jan 01

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