For whom do we write?
November 30, 2013
It is a perennial question that haunts authors.
The easy, and perhaps the most common, answer is that an author writes for his particular audience.
I understand the reasoning behind this notion because it seems only rational that an author have his audience in mind while he sits at a keyboard.
If he has sold some books, he wants to continue producing works in the same vein as his prior pieces in hopes that he won’t disappoint his fans.
If he hasn’t sold many books, he thinks that by targeting a popular niche or genre he may gain entrance into the pantheon of the writing gods who have gone before him.
It is a bankrupt theory to my way of thinking.
An author first and foremost must write for himself.
She must put the words on paper she believes represent her innermost thoughts about the human situation. She must be convinced that the words she has to share contribute uniqueness born out of her own individuality.
Anything less is allowing the tail to wag the dog.
Let’s be real.
No one knows what words strung together by some lonely writer will strike a responsive chord in the hearts of readers.
To chase the dream of popular success is tilting at windmills.
If such success finds its way to the author, the author will have no clue how it happened.
Neither will a publisher ensconced in a corner office in Gotham.
The motivation to write inhabits the marrow of a writer. Either he has it or he doesn’t. If he is one of the unfortunate cursed by the gods to commit words to paper, his only option is to pursue the task before him, to pour out his soul whether anyone finds her way to his scribblings or not.
So what is a writer to do?
He must steel himself to the task and keep at it.
And if he dedicates himself to the enterprise of words, he is only cheating himself if he settles for less than his best efforts.
Maybe no one will read what he writes.
So be it.
It’s not about that.