Writing is like sex. First, you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.— Virginia Woolf, British Writer
Recently, I came across this quote beginning with “Writing is like sex.” Anyone who knows me knows I like sex. I also like to write. Two of my favorite activities all rolled up into one short sentence. So naturally, this quote caught my eye. Who am I to argue with Virginia Woolf?
But then I started thinking about the full context of the quote. I began breaking it down into three components.
Writing is like sex
Hmm, that’s an easy one. I already wrote about the combination above. Of course, there’s more to it.
For me, writing is like sex. When I am in the zone and know in my brain exactly what the scene I’m writing about is, I get that euphoric high that is akin to a good, satisfying orgasm. Most of you out there know what I mean by the high one gets from climaxing. Endorphins flood your bloodstream, and you feel as if you’re leaving your real-life behind. All you can sense is your partner and the euphoria they are giving you.
That’s how I feel when I write, and the scene is clearly laid out in my mind. My fingers fly across the keyboard, and I don’t have to think about the words I’m writing. The winds are calm, and it’s smooth sailing ahead.
Contrast that to when I struggle to figure out what my characters are supposed to do. It’s a mess. I can sit there, type something, delete it, and try again. Often, I’ll get up, leave my computer behind, and do something else.
Inevitably, I figure it out and go back to writing. To me, this too is like sex. Everyone who takes part in sex has found themselves in a position that either they can’t perform or the act is dull, uninteresting, pointless, and mundane. It does nothing to bring you joy, and you’re ready to move on. It sucks, I know, but it happens to everyone. Don’t deny it. You’d only be lying to yourself. It happens. So what?
First, you do it for love.
This is the start of something beautiful. There’s nothing like new love. Just the idea or thought of the object of your love fills you with joy. Again, the endorphins flood your bloodstream, you’re all alone, and all you’re doing is thinking about what it is you love. It’s something I think we all would love to hang onto forever.
I remember those early days of writing fondly. I didn’t care about who would read what I wrote. Writing made me feel good. Without a doubt, there’s more to it than that. I was challenging myself, daydreaming as I wrote, wondering what it would be like actually to live in the world I slowly created.
Then you do it for your friends.
When I shared my first full-length novel with my friends, they surprised me. Everyone told me it was good. They all encouraged me to publish it.
What the fuck? Me? Get this book published? What the hell were they talking about, and how in the world would I get it published? I knew exactly zero about how to get a book published.
Over time, I figured out how. Although I’ll admit, it’s the worst part of the job. I love the writing and care little for the publishing part. Oh, I can do it. I just don’t like the work that goes into it. The creative part is done, and now it’s on to the tedious part. Better buckle down, Rich, and get to it. No one will read your stories if you don’t do the work. C’est la vie.
Then you do it for money.
Ah, there’s the rub. Not that I’ve ever had sex for money. I might consider it if there were a way to enjoy sex for cash safely. But that’s a pipedream. It, too, would become work, and I would quickly lose interest in it. Well, maybe not too quickly.
When it comes to writing for money, that’s another thing. My writing is my backup plan for when I retire. I’ll have a decent income after retirement, but I don’t want to sit around the house, watching TV, where all I can do is play golf, pickleball, or some such other activity that I have to pay for.
Writing will bring me an income from my royalties. I view my published stories as assets that generate revenue. Will it ever be enough to subsist on? I hope so, but alas, I’m not there yet. However, each passing year, I get closer to my goal.
What’s my goal? It’s to live by the beach, wiggle my toes in the sand, a nearby drink while I enjoy the day, and write a little, or write a lot. Whatever the mood of the day brings. Let’s not forget to enjoy my other favorite pastime, sex on the beach.