Reasons to Write a Book #1: Because You Must

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to tell would-be authors why they shouldn’t try to write a book. Some want fame and fortune. Unless you happen to land an agent (unlikely), who gets you a substantial advance with a large publisher (very unlikely), and your book becomes a bestseller (extremely unlikely), the amount of work you put in to the project is not going to be commensurate with the financial rewards or renown you (don’t) receive. Even those who reject the route to fame and fortune detailed above by selling their work directly to the reading public have to face the fact that many hundreds of thousands of individuals are doing the same thing. The odds that you will succeed in those stated goals in this way remain long.

So, why write? Well, the first thing I ask those who tell me they want to write a book is whether they’ve discounted every other way to communicate what it is they want to say. A blog, a podcast, a movie, a play, speech, song, or poem—none of these captures the pleasure or discipline of allowing an argument or a story to unfurl itself in the same way as a book. They take great satisfaction in writing. It may be hard and occasionally frustrating, but the pleasures of the text outweigh the agonies of composition.

For me, “because you must” has to be the first reason to want to write a book, since when everything else falls away, the sense of having told a story as well as you could is all that’s left. Many obstacles may still remain between completing a manuscript and it becoming a published book, but at least now a manuscript exists that is the best you can possibly make it.

About martinrowe

I am the executive director of the Culture & Animals Foundation, the co-founder of Lantern Publishing & Media, and the author, editor, and ghostwriter of several works of fiction and non-fiction. I live in Brooklyn, New York.
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