about writing and life and God

The rewards of writing

on February 12, 2013

I know it is early days. To be precise, day 2 only. But I got to my laptop at 9 a.m. and the next scene wrote itself just as I envisaged it. Which is just as well as I had tears in my eyes — one of the fisher lassies dies in tragic circumstances. And I loved it!

So that’s another thousand words, and I can hardly wait for tomorrow.

I had forgotten how wonderful writing the first draft is. And now I’m kicking myself for having forgotten just how good it feels and being so slow to get back to it. It occurs to me that if it didn’t feel good — if writers didn’t enjoy writing — there would be no books. Because very few of us earn enough money to make it a remunerative occupation. Most of us have to do something else to pay the bills and put bread on the table, unless we have a private income or a well-paid and supportive spouse/partner/parent.

Me, I’m part-funded by Her Majesty. Writer by Royal Appointment? Not exactly, but I’m old enough to be drawing my state pension and that makes a huge difference! Yes, I know I’ve actually earned it by paying into the fund since I started working but it still feels like unearned dosh in the bank each month. Before that, I coached writers, did quite a bit of freelance editing, proofreading and indexing, ran writing courses and did a bit of consultancy for publishing companies. Having a pension is wonderfully liberating.


Digital Image

I do love when the advance copies of a new book arrive. I love the smell of fresh ink and paper. It’s nice to see my words in print. It’s even nicer to get kind reviews and friendly comments. But I think the real reward of writing is intrinsic rather than extrinsic.

Reward. Interesting word. According to the Universal Dictionary, it means “something given in recompense for worthy behaviour or service rendered.”

  1. Recompense? From re + compensare (compensate).
  2. Compensate: to make up for, reimburse (re + bourse: a purse); make reparation.
  3. Reparation: make good, make amends, repair.
  4. Repair: “to restore to sound condition”. From re+ parare: to put in order, to prepare.

Following the derivations and meanings through gets us to this lovely idea of being restored to sound condition. I have a friend whose husband says she’s always happiest when she’s writing. And seeing my own joie de vivre today, I’d agree that I’m at my best when I’m writing. Definitely restored to sound condition!

But that last word in the definition is fascinating. When I forced myself to stop this morning because I had to go out — somewhere I wanted to go and knew I’d enjoy, but it was still willpower that got me away from my story — the desire, the longing to get back to it prepared me for tomorrow’s session. And the drive to my friend’s house for our girly morning gave me time to put my thoughts in order and see where the next scene would lead.

Yes, it is like a love affair. And that love is a huge part of the reward of doing it. I know that exercise produces opiate-like endorphins. I wonder if writing does the same thing for those of us who love to write?!



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