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Writing what you love

I know some authors who are very disciplined and able to write for a market. They ride the trends, they deliver a story and cover that is bang on right, and they make a nice living at it. Once, I wished I could be one of them. But as I increasingly come to believe a full time writing career isn't just no longer an aspiration for me but something I actively don't want, it's become easier for me to decide not to follow that model (which is good because my screwy brain won't anyway....)

Last year, I got funding to write a book and that means that that particular book before it sees the light of day is probably my most profitable to date. I like it very much, I enjoyed writing it for the most part, but the last 8 weeks or so were a slog for me. Whatever passion I bring to my writing left the building. I began to fear IT had finally come - the moment when I'd get bored of writing and stop.

Now, all writers go through fits and starts like this. I've never been a believer in relying on a muse, but in determination and keeping going until the end, and it is that stickability, if you like, that got that book to the end.

I then had my annual What-do-I-write-next moment. And, because I wanted something I could pick up and put down should another project become active, I started playing with Abendau (I slip very easily into the characters so it's ideal to work on between other things.)

And at that point the writing passion returned. I was thinking up the next scene while driving along. I was making notes in my notebook that didn't consist of despairing little clouds asking why I put myself through these things. I was seeing what needed changing in drafted scenes, and just doing it. And, suddenly, writing is a joy again.

Frankly, for me, if writing isn't a joy there is no reason for me to do it. I don't get paid a lot for doing so, certainly not enough to make it viable as a long-term living, I don't have any aspirations (see above) to become the next biggest thing in publishing and find myself doing this full time, I don't have any sitting behind me telling me I must write and hit deadlines (and when they do, it's generally at the editing stage, which I enjoy anyhow.)

Which means that I no longer chase the next popular thing. Or any popular thing. If people don't fancy the quirky little blend of people and worlds I write, that's absolutely fine. And if people do try it and like my work, that's even better - and there'll be more to come. Because that's another thing about writing what you love - it flows onto the page quickly. There is more material!

In fact: here's my top reasons why you should always, always, always, write what you love:

1. Passion. If you love what you write, the words will flow, the characters will come alive and your passion will shine through. I loved writing Sunset over Abendau, Abendau's Legacy and Inish Carraig more than any of my other books, and it shows. They are pacy and chirpy and much more like what I read. Waters and the Wild, I found harder to write (but felt I had to, it was a very important book for me to get out), and whilst a challenging project is good, they need broken up by something that brings back the passion.

2. Speed. Words fly out of me if I'm happy. I can easily type  1500 words in half an hour, take a break, come back and chuck out another couple of thousand. It is no hardship to find the next scene, the next point of view character, the next thing to think about.

3. Independence. I'm not sitting with any pressure on me to write what an audience wants. I'm not feeling any pressure to write anything other than that next scene. It's gloriously guilt free and something I don't feel when I'm working on something I feel I SHOULD work on.

4. Self-actualisation. Call it what you will, empowerment, achievement, pride - for me, writing something I feel I want to write, that only I can write, and that I'm proud of gives me a lot of persona self-worth. The sales are a very secondary concern to that.

5. Ownership. No one made me write the book. No one said I had to, or I'd make money, or it would sell. I wrote it because I wanted to. I wrote it because it was mine to write. This is very much where I am with The Last Seer (the new Abendau, I think I'm going to call this The Origins Trilogy, which will confuse everyone since it's a follow up trilogy, but hey! I can do that! It's mine to play with...)

All of which means I am a happy writer right now. Last month I was a pretty grumpy one. And I like to be happy when I'm doing something that isn't likely to pay me enough to make a living, that I mostly fit into my spare time and that is, in fact, a hobby.