The statement above seems like a bit of a no-brainer. Doesn’t anybody who ever picks up a pen (or, as is more commonly the case now, places their fingers on a keyboard) want to write something good? Of course they do, and I’m not for a second suggesting that they don’t. The purpose of this post is to try and explain what those words mean to me.
I’m constantly seeing a lot of advice about the sorts of things writers need to do to be successful. Often it involves aspects like checking the market to see what’s popular, or working in very clearly defined genres, in order to ensure readers know what to expect.
Again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that advice. If I knew how to do it, I might even give it a go. The problem is, I’m not sure that I could. I have a feeling that if I tried to write to a predefined market, or within a predefined genre, I’d end up producing some sort of pale imitation of the other books in that genre. The result would be books that would not be particularly successful, but even worse as far as I’m concerned, books that I wouldn’t be proud of. They just wouldn’t be all that good.
That’s why I’ve decided that when it comes to my books, the best thing I can do is toss that advice out to the winds and write my books the way I want to write them. It’s possible that by ignoring advice, I’m cutting off my nose and denying myself the chance to be successful. But I like to look at things another way. I figure the best chance I have to be successful is to write the best book I can possibly write, and I could never do that if I’m restricting myself to what is currently seen to be popular, or what is seen to fit in a particular genre.
In many ways, this makes life more difficult for me as a writer. Most of the channels that exist for marketing books are very much geared around conventional genres, so it makes getting the word out about my stories especially hard. But then again, who is to say it would be easier if I did work in these genres – given how much competition there is, I’d still need to be shouting out till I was hoarse in order to make myself heard.
Ultimately, as I writer I’m driven by a passion to tell my stories. Particularly as I don’t have a lot of time to write, I need to do everything I can to keep that passion alive. One sure way to extinguish that feeling would be to try and write to some predefined formula. At this stage of my life, I’m not even sure if I care about whether I can establish a successful ‘career’ as a writer. I just want to write stories I can feel proud of.
I just want to write something that’s as good as it can be.
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