For the love

I had found myself in a strange place.

For some years now I have been writing to contract. It was a heady thing – someone BOUGHT my stories before they had been written, somebody paid me advances for dreams yet undreamed. There was an exhilaration to it – and there were two other things, too. One was the hobble of tight deadlines, of the pressure to produce the books that I had been contracted to write, the danger that if I let the wings of my imagination spread too wide and fly me too far I might land in dangerous places. The other was a strange security, the fact that I knew that there was a contract in my drawer with my name on it and the publisher’s name on it and it promised to pay me a certain sum of money I could count on, could live on.

But then I found myself in that strange place.

For the first time in five years or so, I am currently NOT under contract. The jury is still out on a couple of projects and proposals which are out there exploring the universe – but nothing is signed, sealed, or indeed delivered. And because I can’t NOT write, I started on the next project anyway. And found myself stalling over and over again, starting every new chapter was like starting the whole novel all over again, I was writing a story and all I could think about was the contracts – will this thing sell? Will it be published? Will there beĀ  a new contract under my pillow…?

And it got in the way of the story. In the worst way.

And my husband said, “When you wrote “Jin Shei” – your biggest book ever – you wrote it for the love of it, for the fun of it, because you had a story that needed to be told. You didn’t have a contract then. Go back to that. Write for the love of it. Forget what comes after.”

So I did.

I closed the book of contracts and the frustrations of the potential publishing process.

I opened the book of Story once again.

I wrote twenty thousand words in five days, four chapters’ worth of story, *and they were good*. I am extrapolating into the story’s future, figuring things out as I go, just as I did in the heady days of writing “Jin Shei”. I am writing a story that wants to be told.

I’m back on the Island of Faith; I’m writing because I believe. We’ll cross the bridge back to the Practical Mainland of Publishing when we’re ready, my story and I.

In the meantime, I am writing. For the love of it.

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  1. 1. cindy

    so thrilled for you.
    i, too, believe that you can only
    write what you feel passionate about.
    finishing a novel AND making it good
    is such a challenge–how does one do
    so without absolutely LOVING what’s
    been written?

    i can’t wait to see what this novel
    will turn out like. i have no doubt it will
    find a contract when it’s done.

    congratulations on going back
    to the heady beginning.

  2. 2. glenda larke

    I so relate to this, Alma. I am in exactly the same boat – I had contracts one after the other for 2 trilogies, and now a hiatus.

    Not sure if it is such a good thing for me, though. I am writing, (how can one not?) but a great deal more slowly!

  3. 3. Jackie Kessler

    That is absolutely amazing, Alma. And very inspiring. And it gives me hope for my WIP.

Author Information

Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander is a novelist, short story writer and anthologist whose books include High Fantasy ("Hidden Quen""Changer of Days"), historical fantasy ("Secrets of Jin Shei", "Embers of Heaven"), contemporary fantasy ("Midnight at Spanish gardens") and YA (the Worldweavers series, the Were Chronicles). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats. Visit site.

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