Writing is something that, for me, has grown from an activity I’d do a couple of evenings a week to something that happens every day. I’m working harder and harder at all aspects of the process—planning stories, writing first drafts, and running through different rounds of edits—as well as spending more time on marketing and other ‘business’ activities.
So why is writing important to me? There’s no single reason. A large part of it is pure enjoyment, from the excitement of developing a cool story idea through the fun of writing itself and onto the rewarding work in moulding those initial words into something I can feel proud of. Then there’s the possibility of earning money from these stories—we all need money to live, and there’s nothing wrong in seeking some kind of financial recompense for all the time, effort and money I’ve put into producing these books.
Then there’s the opportunity to entertain, to take readers on a journey, to help them escape from their daily lives for a few hours. This is more nebulous than the other reasons, but is no less important. Maybe it’s the most important reason for writing. After all, story-telling is communication, and each story only truly comes to life when it reaches across to another person.
It’s harder to quantify this reason, though. I can judge my own enjoyment in the process, and I can look at my bank balance to judge the financial rewards (or otherwise). But the effect my stories have on others—how do I judge that?
This comes down to communication. I’ve received a few e-mails and comments from readers, as well as a few reviews. I received one review for Shadowfall recently that I thought I’d share here.
Wow. That is all I can say about this book. It kept me on my toes waiting to find out what came next. I was left wanting more and I am very eager to read anything written by this writer. This book had everything I like in the fantasy genre. It was well-written with a lot of character and world building. I would definitely recommend this book.
Every time I read that review, I feel warm inside. It’s so positive, and it tells me that (for this reader, at least) I succeeded in many things I set out to achieve in Shadowfall. This review tells me it’s a page-turner, and that my work in creating a believable world, populated by relatable characters, succeeded.
Yes, the review came through BookSprout (a service that aims to match readers with books in order to provide reviews), but there was no pressure on the reader to leave a positive review. As I’ve said many times before, I’d far rather receive an honest critical review than an insincerely positive one.
Shadowfall‘s slowly getting more reviews and ratings, and many of them are positive. I know the book isn’t for everyone, so I’ll receive negative comments at some point. And that’s fine—I know there will always be areas of development in my writing and story-telling. I know, too, that every reader is different, and one reader’s drudgery is another’s page-turner.
But I hope I never stop feeling so good when I receive a review like the one above. I never want to become complacent. I want to always remember that the stories I write are not only for myself (and hopefully for my bank balance). I need to remember that stories are never complete until they are consumed by a reader. Only then can they truly live.
I feel honoured and grateful that what I create can give others enjoyment. And I thank any reader who takes the time and effort to leave a review. Without readers, there is no need for writers. Without readers, stories never emerge from the depths.
Without readers, there are no books.
[As a quick post-script, what do you think of the animated cover above? Many thanks to Deranged Doctor Designs for this—one of the best cover design companies around.]