The Writer’s burden

Those of us who are lucky enough to spend most of our time writing know what a phenomenal rush it is to write something and feel really good about it.

“Ah!” you think, “he is going to talk about the burden of editing.”

Well… no. I love editing. It gives me the chance to put more obstacles in Cal’s path, flash on great Shakespearean lines for him to quote, make the plot more compelling and express all the characters’ emotions more deeply and more succinctly. Editing is cosmic and can be a lot of fun.

“Oh, I get it, he’s gonna talk about the burden of an indie writer marketing his or her books.”

Nope. I get to blog, tweet, read other writers’ books/blogs/tweets, email, talk to people on Facebook and LinkedIn and even talk to people on the phone. All of which I love. When those things result in sales, great!

“It must be the burden of competing with all of the new indie authors coming on stream every day?

Not a burden but an opportunity. As indie authors, we are certainly perceived by many readers as being not quite as good as traditionally published authors. Although my books will always cost a lot less than those of the traditionally published authors in my genre, I am determined to continue sharpening my craft to keep my work as good as the best of them and better than most of them. Indie authors who don’t make that commitment—and many do not—will not be competitors over the long haul.

“OK, I give up. So what is the writer’s burden?”

I recently read The Righteous by Michael Wallace, which I thoroughly enjoyed. What made the book so interesting was that Michael gave his readers an insight into the workings of the Mormon Church and specifically the workings of its polygamous sects. It was something about which I knew next to nothing and I was fascinated. It was one of the things that made it such a compelling read. For me as a reader, it is always a huge plus when I learn something interesting from a book.

In Junkie, I have tried to give people a new view into the world of addiction and the drug trade; people who read the upcoming Oboe may learn some things about autism that they did not know. All writers have subjects they know well and are passionate about; subjects which are just screaming out to get expressed in their novels.

In a world of diminishing educational standards, increasingly inane TV, and news media dumbed down beyond all recognition, I believe it has become the responsibility of authors of fiction to take a stand in bucking the trend. And this is where the burden comes in…

We need to share the knowledge about which we are passionate without detracting from the tension or pace of our story or, worst of all, becoming preachy about the subject (that took a few editing passes in Junkie, let me tell you). And… we have to take precious time away from our writing to do the necessary research.

But it is worth it because it can add a great richness to our work and to the subsequent enjoyment of our readers.



You can check out Junkie here and sample chapters from the upcoming Oboe hereIf you would like to be informed when Oboe is available, please sign up on the form to the right, at the top of the page, or you can contact me at robert@robertpfrench.com I would love to hear from you.

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3 Responses to The Writer’s burden

  1. Wonderful post and very relevant to my post on what to post about! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Amalia says:

    Very relevant! Thank you, Robert. I find two things fascinating. First of all, with my one post on Found Voice. What Now? I said I wanted to find community. And BAM! The next morning, here it is. The second thing is how critically important what you are saying about our burden is. People learn through stories. They relate, they expand their awareness, they connect. Which brings me back to my first point…community. Yet another moment of complete gratitude for the angels that inspired the creation of the Internet.

  3. Pam says:

    Guess I was still waffling in my commitment to “just do it”–be the writer I always dreamed about being–until I read your post. The perspective of the writer’s burden to educate set in the context of today’s culture made an impression because I haven’t yet written something that required research. My FINAL Quit (on amazon) is my personal story of breaking an addiction; I chose to keep it personal because I wanted to “be the friend I didn’t have (when I quit) for someone else.” In my first and only novel to date, Night Sounds (yet to be published) I wrote about a woman coming into her personal power after leaving an abusive husband. No research required; I had been abused. The possibility of stepping outside my personal experience opens the world for me. Thanks!

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