This is something that I hear a lot. People who desire to make a career out of writing, somehow, are not writers. Everyone tells me to, write for myself, write because I enjoy it, or else I’m, in the wrong profession. When I will ask, since when was it a crime to want to write and also be successful? I’m so tired of this cop out idea, that only real writers, the writers with true artistic passion, don’t also care if they get their stories read or not. That’s ridiculous.
Now, hang on, I know what you are probably going to be thinking. That I can’t tell people how to feel or how to write. I’m not saying, that if someone doesn’t want to share their writing, make a profit from it, or whatever else, they don’t have to. If a person is perfectly happy writing only for themselves and showing it to no one, then they should do that. I’m all for what makes people happy. However, the notion that you would write an entire book only for yourself, and never want anyone else to read it, makes no sense to me, personally, at all.
When you tell a story, go through the effort of writing it down and editing it and then posting it online, don’t you want people to read it? To claim that you wrote it only for yourself, then went through the effort of putting it in public, to say that you don’t care who reads it or not…you’re lying to yourself. You want people to read stuff you post online. You didn’t write it only for you. If you were writing only for yourself you’d keep it in a journal offline. Whether it be handwritten or typed into a file that no one saw. Once again, if this makes you happy to do then you should do that. I have no problem with it, but that’s not for me. It’s not for everyone.
The point of writing a story is to tell it. A story without an audience isn’t a story. It’s nothing. You don’t write a story for the purposes of keeping it to yourself because then, why write it at all? If everything I ever wrote I intended to keep to myself, I wouldn’t have written it down. I’d have kept it in my head. It wouldn’t exist on the internet or on paper because the mere thought of it alone would have satisfied me. Story tellers are just that. They want to tell people their stories. When you publish a story whether it is self published, traditionally published, on a free blog, or forum, or whatever else, you want people to read it.
Think of it this way. What if Stephen King wrote all of his stories and never showed them to anyone? Well, that certainly would be his right to do, but Stephen King didn’t write Carrie and think “Wow, this is great, let me hide it away from the world”. No. What he did was think, “Wow, this is great, I want to share it with people and get it published”. Which he did. I guess, according to several tweets I got, this makes him not a writer. The mere act of wanting to sell a book and make money off of his work, is some how pandering to the masses and he is not an artist. Someone even told me that I should admire some guy who only got famous after he died for his writing. Why? When I’m dead I’m just dead. I won’t be able to enjoy any of that. That, in my opinion, is the dumbest thing I ever heard. Once again, if people, other people, have that mentality and think that way then good for them. I don’t know why it makes them happy to think like that but I won’t take it away from them.
For me, it’s not the same thing. It never will be. I don’t want to share my stories and be successful to get rich. If I wanted that I would be charging far more for my books on Amazon. No. What I want is an audience, I want readers, I want to tell a story. Of course, then people will ask, “Why not just do it for free then?”. I have done it for free, for many years, but it’s a lot of work. Is it too much to ask for a few dollars in exchange for a long, well written, thought out, and edited original novel? I really don’t think it is. Even to this day I offer free content via my blog and via a website called Inkitt. What I crave more than money or fame is readers. An audience. I want people to enjoy my worlds and characters. I want people to understand that this is a labor of love but it’s still a labor.
If you want recognition for your writing, if you want a career from it, if you want to put in the effort and time and be successful that is part of being a writer. One part of many. If you want to write for only your own benefit then great, do that and be happy. However, to claim that someone is asking too much for success, or is even not a real writer because they, “don’t only write for themselves”, is insulting. I write for myself, the stories I create I very much enjoy. I like the process of writing them down. I like the creative thinking. I also like getting them out there so other people can enjoy them. This doesn’t cheapen my writing or who I am. Anyone who tells you otherwise is incredibly misguided and distasteful in their advice.
I once knew a girl who, to my face, insisted, that I was never going to be a real writer because I wanted people to read my work. The mere fact that I was asking for an audience made me a fraud. The irony of the situation was she was a writer doing the same thing at the same time. When I pointed out to her that she wrote her stories, she begged for people to read them, she put them out there on a blog, she had the audacity to tell me that wasn’t the same thing. That she didn’t need people to read anything she wrote. That she was a true artist and she would write if people read it or not. Yet, her entire existence online depended heavily on her begging people not only to read her stories but give her money.
Look, if you want to abide by this ancient notion of, “if you aren’t writing for yourself and only yourself, you’re not a real writer”, then you do that. It’s completely incorrect, and makes no sense, but if it makes you happy then I wish you the best. However, for the love of God, please stop trying to push the same ideology onto people who don’t think that way. I am not a lesser writer because I also want to find success in writing. Nor is anyone else who thinks like me. Can we all agree to that?