The inner drive to keep practicing

There has to be some strong internal drive that brings us back to our writing desk each day, because it will be a long time before the outside world ever rewards us for our efforts.

When I was doing journalism, I got a lot of outside rewards. My stories were getting published every week, I got paid for my work, I could see my name on the newsstands, and I got fan mail from people who liked my stories. If all I wanted was outside recognition, I probably would have stayed with journalism. But that wasn’t what I wanted to do.

I have wanted to write fiction since I was eight years old, but it took until I was twenty-one to realize that if I was going to become a fiction writer I was going to have to get myself there. I have been serious about writing fiction for about five years now (a drop in the bucket compared to many other people), and I have received very little outward recognition for my labor.

In five years I have one published short story, and one published poem. I have written about forty short stories, but none of them are really finished enough to share with anybody. I have two novels, a first draft of one and another which I am currently rewriting. Even after five years, I still recognize that most of my work isn’t publishable yet.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just pointing out that this is par for the course. I knew this was how it was going to be when I decided to get serious about writing fiction. It is a lot of work with very little public recognition, which is why my motivation for writing cannot be dependent on the outside world, it has to be a love that comes from inside. You have to love writing fiction to want to spend four hours a day doing it, even when the work you produce isn’t good enough to share yet and even when it disappoints you. Love for the activity itself is the only thing that will keep you coming back again and again. Love is what makes you keep trying.

About E.S.O. Martin

E.S.O. Martin is a writer, a California native, and a graduate of SF State's Creative Writing MFA program.
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