“I’m going to make this moment mine…”
Those are two questions I’ve never really stopped to think about before, though part of my answer is quite similar to hers. The main reason I write is because other people don’t write about what I’m interested in. There are many books out there that interest me, of course, but there are very few characters that I can relate to all the time. Most novels feature strong characters, characters that speak up for themselves or who say what they feel even if it makes them unpopular. I understand this, and most of my favorite books have such characters as their protagonists.
But I really want to see in books are characters who are afraid to speak. Characters who don’t have any friends. I’m tired of reading about “social outcasts” who have a best friend they share everything with. I can’t relate to that. I made small talk with people in my classes sometimes, but after middle school I rarely hung out with anyone. I was only invited to one party, and I spent the whole time in the corner by myself because I was too afraid to talk to the people I knew there. I ate by myself most of ninth grade, and two other years I ate with people I barely knew because it was better than being by myself. Even now, when I hang out in the NaNoLanta chatroom, I’m usually one of the ones who lurks and just enjoys reading what other people are talking about because I’m afraid to put myself out there. I was invited to a fellow Wrimo’s party last weekend and didn’t go because I had a mini panic attack outside their apartment and couldn’t bring myself to go inside.
I want to read about a character like that. I’ve read stories about people who say the wrong things in social situations. I want to read about someone who is so afraid of saying the wrong thing that she doesn’t say anything. I haven’t found a book like that. That’s why I write them. Most people try not to write characters who are too much like they are. I aim for that because that is what I would want to read. So, in a way, I agree with Chomsky when she says that she writes for herself.
But I also want to write for others, which is where Chomsky and I differ. She doesn’t care about being published. I want to. Of course, I don’t want to get published so badly that I sacrifice what I find interesting to match what other people want. I, too, find myself unable to change my writing to make other people happy. I will listen to suggestions, of course, and I will change things when I agree that the other person was right, but I can’t really change my style to make others happy.
I’ve found that I can’t write short stories unless they have some sort of deeper meaning. I find them boring otherwise. I wrote a short story for my first college writing class that was an allegory for teen pregnancy and double standards. My teacher told me she would rather I write about a girl who got pregnant, that I shouldn’t use fiction for something like that, that an essay would have been better. I didn’t listen. My next story I wrote more like what she was looking for, but I refused to take a story that was close to me and turn it into something that I would find boring to read about.
And I have to believe that I’m not the only one who would rather have read my story than a story about a girl who got pregnant and had her boyfriend ditch her. I have to believe that I’m not the only one who has that much trouble talking to people. I have to believe that others out there feel how I feel, at least to some degree.
And that is part of why I want to get published. If I would benefit from reading more stories about people like me, then maybe my stories could help other people if they read them, too. Maybe it would help them feel not so alone.
The other reason I want to get published is because it would be really awesome if I could make enough money from my writing that I wouldn’t have to work. I know that’s highly unlikely, but it can still be a dream. As I’ve made abundantly clear in this post, I’m horrible at talking to people. That makes finding a job I would even half enjoy next to impossible. Writing would allow me to work from home and not have to deal with people face-to-face on a regular basis.
Hell, at this point I’d settle just for getting a book published, even if it didn’t earn me enough money to quit my job. At least it would be something I could be proud of. Everyone else I went to high school with has a cool job or his/her own apartment (or both). I don’t have either, and I would be okay with that if I could point to a book on a shelf in a bookstore and say, “Hey, I wrote that.”