Creativity: the Driving Force

Someone asked me recently why I write. After I thought about it, it became increasingly clear: creativity.

I have an overwhelming drive to create. I absolutely love picking an idea out of the thin air and seeing what I can create with it.

If I could be locked away (on a beautiful tropical island) and be fed at varying intervals (thai, curry, and nyonya would be great) then I think I could go on creating for a specific indefinite amount of time. (And I definitely have no idea how specific that time would be.)

My brain is bottlenecked with ideas – novels waiting to be discovered, phrases and words ready to turn into dramatic works. melodies and lyrics ready to become the next Broadway smash.

I used to be drawn to movies and TV shows. Now I’m drawn to white screens and greasy keyboards. I’m drawn to secluded tables by the beach or little back corners of vacant cafes.

I used to drawn to sports. Now I’m drawn to musicals and live shows, theatrical productions and lighting schemes. I’m drawn to set designs and unpredictable movements.

I feel like my brain has graduated. It’s move beyond the rigid confines of stale grammar and cliched dialogues. It’s moved beyond the sitcom drivel and the banality of pop-culture which lives on the surface of society. I’ve graduated from consumption to creation. I’m compelled, coerced, and utterly vanquished to hourly solitude in front of the glowing screen, etching away at a hidden theme inside a partly hidden story.

So I wait for the next hour, the next afternoon, the next day, the next week which will whet my fingers with a stirring of ideas which will lead to entire new palate of other ideas. The building up, the networking, the cognitive hooks bound together by phrases and sentences leading into the great unknown.

That’s why I write. That’s why I have to write. If I don’t write, the buildup inside would be too great to withstand

Creativity is the necessary outlet which keeps me partially sane.

So here’s to creativity!

My Life is Richer as an Indie Author

I wrote this post – The Exhaustion of Self-Promoting – about a year and a half ago. Nothing has really changed. Being an indie author is still exhausting. The work is never done, and sometimes it feels like it’s me against the whole publishing and reading world.

Plus, I still don’t have a publicist. The offer still stands. I can pay in food and free books. Let me know if there are any takers.

It is, without a doubt, difficult cracking through busy-ness of everyone’s lives in order to a new reader to notice an unknown author like myself. But when it does happen, it is tremendously worth it all.

I’ve come to realize that indie authors are paid more with satisfaction than through monetary means. The satisfaction is paid through a good review or a kind word. I’ve received emails from readers who have been touched by my books. What more could I ask for? I’ve received some tremendous reviews that make me shake my head in gratitude, never expecting such kind and powerful words to be used to describe my stories. All of these feed the indie flame and keep it burning.

However, another side of me is never satisfied, and it is easy to become frustrated when a promotion does nothing except thin out my already thin wallet. It’s easy to wish for monetary success, thinking how amazing it would be to be able to write full time. I have found since I wrote that post that sales are hardly a predictable or linear item. Sales are more of a roller coaster – a fast start with a great promotion which slows to a brick wall, and the overworked indie author has to plug away doing what can be done on a weekly basis to push books, promote the author’s platform, or just stay engaged in what’s happening in the industry.

It is exhausting and time consuming when balancing it all with work, family, and other pursuits. So perhaps I should throw in the towel??

Not a chance, and here are the reasons:

  • I love to write. (period) Why would I stop doing what I love?
  • I’m not writing for the money. And while I wouldn’t refuse the money if it came, that’s not why I started to write. I began writing and publishing to fulfill a lifelong desire which I had pushed aside for far too long.

I just need to remind myself every once in a while of the reasons I began this journey in the first place, and it had nothing to do with success or self-validation.

The simple truth is this: I love being an indie author. Each new reader that enjoys my stories is a humbling experience. I will continue to write with passion and from the heart. Where it will take me, I do not know, but it is the process which has made my life richer. And that’s all I can ask for.


An Extremely Unscientific Writer’s Scale

An Extremely Unscientific Writer’s Scale:

Professional. Amateur. Hobbyist. Wannabe. Awesome passionate dreamer. Devoted Craftsman. (or craftswoman)

What exactly is an indie author? Who am I?

I’ve said before on this blog that I write because I love it. I am compelled to write. I cannot not write. I have stories that I want to tell, and creative outlets that I want to explore, so where does that put me on the indie scale?

By strict definition, I’m not a professional because writing is not my sole means of income. Teaching brings home the bacon for me.

But I certainly don’t consider myself an amateur, and I think that the term “amateur” cannot be correctly applied to indie authors. I (we) strive for a professional level product even if our big break hasn’t come along yet. So step aside amateur, you are not for me.

What about hobbyist? Hobbyist is another term that I’m not comfortable with because it implies something that one does on the side – a thrilling activity that one enjoys, but it isn’t their main gig. But writing for me is far beyond that a side attraction. I used to collect baseball cards, and that was indeed a hobby. I was no expert at collecting, but I learned and had fun with it, but I never expected to make a living doing it. It was a hobby. Writing for me is not a hobby.

Wannabe? Of course that has a negative connotation as well, like a rock groupie who dresses in a star’s clothes and hangs out outside celebrity parties on the weekend. A wannabe says things like, “Look, my book is only 5000 places behind John Grisham’s.” A wannabe is one who compares and wants to succeed because of perception. I am certainly not a wannabe.

Awesome passionate dreamer. Now we are getting somewhere. My mind is constantly working on the next plot or character trait. It’s scanning the environment for possible scenes and action sequences. It knows no bounds. I could be an awesome passionate dreamer, and if that is all I ever am, I’d be happy.

Devoted craftsman. For me, this is my goal. I am devoted to the art of writing. I want to improve every time I touch the keyboard. I strive to improve and create the most exciting, meaningful, and poignant manuscripts that I have within me. I do it not for money or fame or wanting to climb up Amazon’s charts, but I do it because I’m an awesome passionate dreamer.

I think that pretty well describes an indie author. An awesome, passionate dreamer who is a devoted craftsman. Do you agree?