Write not to sell. WRITE TO FEEL.

by Ksenia Anske


Photo by Sara Haas

I keep reading these depressing articles on the Interwebs. The message in all of them goes like this:

The publishing industry is dying. It takes forever to publish your book traditionally and it takes even longer to break through the gatekeepers. Oh, you want to go indie? Well all indie books suck, because it's too easy to do them, because every idiot can write a book now and publish it and tell everyone: "Hey, I'm a published author!" By the way, we will all go to hell because now movies and games occupy people's time and nobody reads anymore. On, and on, and on.

I stopped reading everything about publishing because it sounds so depressing, I want to go hide in my closet, find a good rope, and hang myself. Now that would be a cool story, wouldn't it?

Anyway, yesterday I read one more article about publishing by Chuck Wendig, whom I admire and who said he might guest post on my blog sometimes in 2013. His post is called 25 Hard Truths About Writing And Publishing. I read and I thought, FUCK IT! I get it that everything sucks, publishing sucks, the world sucks, life sucks. But, hey, I'm not writing to get published!!! I'm writing because I love writing! Because when I write I get a high that's better than any drug, and it's fucking free! Yes, I'm broke. Yes, I can't travel or go see my mom in Russia because I have no money for airplane tickets. Yes, I have no clue what I'm doing, never having written a novel in my life before. SO WHAT? I'm happy. In those 4 hours every day that I allow myself to dive into writing (after typically battling 30 minutes of crying and anxiety because I've been brought up to believe that I don't deserve to be happy), I am as happy as a baby, as happy as a kitten lapping milk. I forget time, I forget to eat or drink or think or anything. The world stands still with abated breath, waiting. And I soar, I fly, I'm in my story and I don't care about anything else. I get goosebumps. I get to drive any car I want, ride any bike I want, I get to swim into the ocean pretending I'm a siren and I can breathe underwater. I get to kick asses of those people that hurt me in my life before, and I get to tell them everything I always wanted to tell them. I get to shout, to scream, to flip them a finger. And I get to experience love, such powerful love that it almost hurts, it feels so good. I get to LIVE double. Because I do also live life, you know, like I sleep and eat breakfast and use the bathroom and stuff. But I get to crank it up a notch and be superhuman. And I don't care that I'm a dork. When I write I'm a kid again, believing that anything is possible. That I can fly to the stars if I wanted to. I can die twenty times over and come back alive, if I wanted to. I can, I can...

All right, got carried away here a little. Emotional topic. Anyway, where were we. Ah. Money. Publishing. Selling books. Well, here is my story for you, just so you know I'm not breathing hot air here. I don't know what will happen, I don't know if I will get published. And, miraculously, right now, I DON'T CARE. All I care about is to finish my story, have it done, and then see if it's worth people's reading time. If not, fuck it. I have another one already planned out. My second one will be better. My third one will be even better. Now, here is a little problem. I quit my career to write, I sold my car, I reduced my living style to where I can survive on $25,000 a year. That means cooking at home, never going out, not being able to travel (I try to bike everywhere, because I can't afford a gym membership). So what? I can go places in my head, and they make me happy. I've decided, as soon as my savings run out, I might go take up a gardening job, because my next book is about a pre-teen girl who comes to a family reunion and discovers that her grandpa, famous gardener and grower of roses, kills people and grinds them into rose meal. The girl has a pet, black whippet called Panther, who helps her sniff it out. The story will have magic in it, of course. But my thought is, I can go learn everything there is to learn about gardening and then use it in my book, hopefully having enough money for 9 months to live on (that's how long it's taking for me to write Siren Suicides, so I assume it's about right). Yes, I'm crazy. But you know what? I'm not going back to the office, that's like liquid slow death. Forget it.

I got carried away again. What I really wanted to say was, write not to sell. WRITE TO FEEL.

When my boyfriend coaxed me into posting an excerpt from my novel draft here, I was scared out of my mind. And then I was blown away by the response. You can do it too. Please. Life is too short to doubt yourself. If nothing else stays in your mind after reading this (and thank you for putting up with my rambling), do this:

WRITE FOR YOURSELF. Write for your own therapy, to feel better. That's all that matters. I actually didn't believe it myself until I saw Chuck Palahniuk on one of his book tours, and he said the same thing. So, go do it!

WRITE TO FEEL GOOD. Spill all of your weirdnesses and hopes and dreams and pains onto paper. Paper won't judge. Paper won't tell you that you suck. Paper will take it all. And only after it's on paper, you can feel empty and free to go do the next thing. Perhaps, write the next story?

WRITE TO BE. A miraculous thing occurs when you truly write for yourself and write to feel good. Suddenly you start seeing all the shit that you're being made of! Everything! At first it's ugly and terrible, but what happens with time and with writing more, is that you come to accept yourself and become content with everything.

There, what are you waiting for? Drop everything. Go. Go write a beautiful piece. It will be beautiful, because YOU are beautiful, no matter what everyone says. So, stop staring at these stupid letters here and go write me a Pulitzer :) 

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