Saturday, 29 January 2011

Don't do it!

Don't do it.

Don't be a writer.

It's not original. Everyone's at it.

It's not fulfilling. Most of what you do will be rubbish.

It's not satisfying. You'll never get published, and even if you do you won't sell, and even if you do, you'll get marketed wrongly, and even if you're not you'll have to prostitute your very soul to make people like you, and even if you don't you'll never know what the future holds or whether they'll still like you ten minutes later.

Don't do it.

But if you do do it, break all the rules. ALL OF THEM.

This ever-so-slightly-drunken rant was inspired by Tania from TaniaWrites, who in turn was inspired by Anis Shivani, who writes about it all very eloquently here.

I've said what I'm about to say a few times now, but I think that as writers we are often too caught up with Successful, Popular, Famous.

Hmm. Not just writers...

But anyway. Why do we care how many people read our books? 100 people is a LOT of people, but not in the world of publishing. If you did something good and that many people praised you for it, or paid attention to it, wouldn't you be pleased? If you were responsible for some really amazing project at work, and you got that kind of acclaim, wouldn't you be happy?

You can't make a living like that. But should you want to? Why does creative endeavour have to be a profitable enterprise? Why does it have to fill your days? Happen quickly? Why NOT take ten years to write every novel? Why not write in a different genre every time? Take risks, make mistakes, observe no deadlines, FAIL every now and then?




Sue Guiney said...

Here! here! This is the second blog I've read today with the same basic message and you are so right. thanks for yelling out the reminder.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Thanks for this and the links. I've printed up the Anis Shivani and will keep it as a manifesto.

HelenMWalters said...

I agree. We all need to do it our own way and not give ourselves a hard time about it.

Megan said...

Am tempted to post a link to this on a blog I'm responsible for that has a large creative writer readership. Half the temptation comes from the disparaging things said of MFA programs (which that blog is connected to)!

It is tough though because, while it should be true that one writes for the writing, it is also true that the process isn't complete, isn't fulfilled, until it has been shared and read, and naturally that means publication of some sort. I think your solution was an elegant one, but perhaps not ideal for everyone. I don't think it's possible to remove the deep, itchy desire for traditional publication, but the philosophy has a great deal of good in it.

Alice Turing said...

Oh bloody hell. Bloody Blogger. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Just wrote a really long comment and Blogger ate it in some crap about setting up an acocunt when clearly I already have one. GAH.

Alice Turing said...

In a nutshell:

1) What is an MFA program? I haven't come across those initials before.

2) Yes people want to be published, I do understand that.

3) And we need them to be, otherwise we'd have no books to read!

4) But we can manage without all the author hype.

5) And so can the authors.

6) But what I say or do won't make any difference.

7) But still. Writers might do better - and write better - if they don't accept the need for publicity quite so blindly. And if they write what they want to write, instead of jumping through hoops.

8) And writing (IMHO) works better as a hobby than a career.

9) But of course we still have to write for readers, otherwise we end up in a mire of self-indulgent turgidity.