System Purge, Ross's new book release on Smashwords and Kindle, is described this way:
"A 14-year-old prodigy with a mysterious past. A genetically-engineered soldier with a deadly present. A sentient machine fighting for his future. They come from different worlds, but they'll have to trust each other if they want to survive."
A Labor of Love by Ross Willard
On the flight down, I got into a conversation with one of my fellow passengers about farming and cattle. It turned out she had a large ranch near San Antonio. After a few minutes discussing cattle and pecans, the subject of finances came up. Nothing specific, of course, we didn’t know each other that well, but when farmers get to talking, sooner or later they always start talking about finances. Why? Because they’re so bad.
It isn’t as though you always lose money on a farm, but you don’t make a lot either. When you have a particularly good year and find that you have a decent amount of cash on hand, you squirrel it away, in preparation for the inevitable ‘bad’ year, when the tractor breaks, and the harvest fails, and a fire destroys the barn. While the numbers fluctuate wildly from year to year, in the long run a farm is basically a break-even business.
When everything is said and done, farmers work long, hard hours, and often make less than minimum wage doing it. But they keep at it. Year after year, generation after generation, farmers continue to farm even though it would make more financial sense to take a job delivering pizza.
You don’t watch the clock, you don’t deal with bosses, you don’t clean up after whoever worked the shift before you. It’s a completely different experience from my day job, and there’s something addicting about it.
The only experience I’ve had that’s similar to working on the family farm is writing. At its heart, writing is the act of creation; we use language to build worlds, our own worlds, with rules that we determine, and people who exist only because we imagined them.
I bring this up because, as a writer, I find that it’s important to take a moment from time to time and remind myself why I do what I do. Being a writer can be difficult, especially when we’re trying to earn a living with our words. There are so many things that we need to deal with, so many trials, from the days when we can’t seem to get two words onto the page that sound good together, to receiving that thousandth rejection letter, the one that makes us think we’re chasing a pipe dream.
In the pursuit of a career, sometimes we find ourselves questioning our end goal, because when we take hits as a writer, we’re taking them directly to our heart. Much like a farmer whose land got flooded, or whose cows jumped a fence, there is no buffer between our work and our lives, the two are seamlessly intertwined, which can hurt.
So take a moment and remember that whatever your personal goal, whether it is to get published, to make a living, or make your way onto the bestseller list, you didn’t choose to be a writer to reach that goal, you ARE that writer, the goal came later.
We write because we love to write, because we need to write, and because we couldn’t stop writing if we tried. That’s what makes us writers.
Thanks, Ross. You brought back a bunch of memories from my childhood. I grew up on a farm and was there when the barn burned down, the cows escaped from the pasture, and a wave of army worms wriggled across the road from one field to another. Being a writer can be a challenge, but at least I haven't seen any of those horrid worms chomping their way through my manuscripts.
You can learn more about Ross (lots more if you look at his fun About Me page) at his website and blog, A Writer's Blog Attempt. He can also be found on Facebook.