Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writing for the joy of it

I'm taking a creativity coaching class from Eric Maisel, and Eric stresses helping all creative clients move towards the marketplace. I really value Eric's wisdom and experience in working with artists and writers, but this is one place where I sometimes disagree, especially for writers.

If you're smart in today's literary market, you're writing a novel about zombies or vampires, futuristic disasters or sci fi, romance or mystery. That's what's selling--escapist fiction--and if you're a new author, you have a chance. If you're smart, you're not writing serious, literary fiction, which is very hard to sell, especially for new authors. But that's like not designing evening wear if that's your passion but instead designing fleece hoodies for the mass market.

I still believe in writing for the joy of it. In writing for the intrigue of your story, for the love of words and characters, for the message about life and living that you want to convey. I believe we need to write the stories that we have to tell and share them with the world and maybe that world is your writers group, or your family, or your close friends. Or you put it in a pdf up on Kindle and see who might bite. To tailor our work specifically to the marketplace seems somehow out of integrity with what we have to express.

Second, if you're writing a novel or a book of nonfiction, you must love the process, the learning, the honing, the editing, the rewriting, the sheer process of the craft. If you don't, you're in for a lot of tedium. Writing a book takes most of us several years at least. That's a lot of your free time to spend doing something that you don't enjoy for a fleeting possibility of fame in a fickle marketplace. As a college professor, I used to advise students to major in something they loved reading and studying instead of being ultimately driven by what might get them the highest-paying job. What if these are your last four years to live, by some circumstance, I'd ask. What do you want to spend it doing?

So if you're called to write, I encourage you to do it. Tell the stories that are yours to tell.

Marketing something you love, when you come to that point, will be that much easier than marketing something you did just to sell.

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