Friday, April 27, 2012

The worst reason to write

Dear readers and writers,

Probably the best reason to write is that you can't help yourself, you must.  Another reason is that you have something you want to say to the world.  If you write fiction, maybe you have a character or several of them who have fascinating ideas and insights to offer the world.

The worst reason I can think of to write something is because "that's what they want."  My fiction writing seminar class last Wednesday met with an agent who confirmed something I suspected: the timing is all wrong for you if you sit down to write what's topical today.  You'll write it, say taking a year.  You'll take six months (if you're lucky) to find a agent to represent it.  They'll work with you for six months, submit to publishers.  Again, you'll work with an editor for six months if you're lucky enough to be signed.  Then, it will take about a year to publish the book.  So, with the utmost in benign timing at every step, it will be three and a half years before your book is in bookstores.  How many trends last three years?  Not many.

So, I take hope from the idea that only writing something moving, something deep, something I really care about and can't resist writing down is my best strategy for writing a novel.  I need not write about vampires or zombies or hungry competitors; these trends won't be around when and if my novel is published.  Instead, I need to write with my own unique voice, with the imagery of my own world, and trust that an audience will respond to the authenticity when I'm finished.  May it be so for me, may it be so for you.

Image from Creative Commons, with thanks.

1 comment:

SharonW said...

Thank you, Laura! It's always useful to have practical details like that spelled out, for those moments when "artistic integrity" feels like a pompous bit of nonsense.