Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why Is It Important?

First off, I'd like to thank Donald Maass for asking this question recently at the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction Writing Conference. Second off, here we go ...

You've just finished your latest novel when your hard drive crashes. Oddly, the back-up's failed as well. A fire consumes the only printed version you had. Your critique partners threw their copies out and, sadly, your mother never read it. In other words, your new masterpiece is completely gone. But wait, your one friend has the only remaining copy. They'll give it to you so long as you answer this question:

Why is this novel important? Why does it matter?

So what's your answer? I'll tell you mine in a little while.

Happy Writin's!
Gary . . .


  1. It's easy to say why my writing is important to me. To others? That's a bit trickier...
    About a decade ago, just before I first got published, I thought about giving up on writing fiction. I'd already gone through a couple of decades of rejections, I had a decently paying newspaper job, and wondered by I put myself through all the extra hard work and emotional turmoil. It was then that I realized I couldn't stop, and would keep writing if only for myself. It's the way I process life. You could say it's an "escape" from my real problems, but it also helps me work them out vicariously through my characters and their crises. I have developed more empathy, by making myself identify with "people" very different from me, and I've learned a lot by researching other locales and lifestyles. I really need to write fiction to keep myself mentally healthy (though some might argue that I've achieved even that)!
    I would doubt that it's important to others, except I've had surprisingly passionate responses from some reviewers and readers who praised specific things about my books and felt I brought something new to the table with my approach. I don't copy plots and characters I've seen a million times before--I always try to do something fresh. And even though I write to entertain, there's always a bit of a message about our social values snuck in somewhere. If I can give people a good read and also make them think about something they haven't considered before, I guess I've contributed something. Maybe more than the person who's just trying to sell them a new widget that won't improve their lives in any way.

  2. Wow, talk about a dire case scenario, lol. Jane Porter taught me this at an NJRW workshop years ago:

    I have no idea who I will touch with my work when I put it out there.

    In other words, there can be no ripple effect unless I toss that stone into the water.

  3. This novel would be a part of me. To let it die would be to let a part of ME die. Trust me. I've been near that a couple of times and it isn't fun.

    Anyone who would write an entire novel's worth of words would be including a major part of themself. There is no use in writing unless you give of yourself. Losing that part would be a partial suicide. So that one friend who had a copy would know how important it was and not toss it.
    Suicide or murder...gotta think about that.

  4. Somehow, I do not think "themself" is a word.
    My apologies....

  5. Figured you took a little poetic license, Irene. It's all good, lol.