Thursday, February 23, 2006

We Interrupt Our Broadcast...

Melly, I'm afraid you're going to have to take a number and stand in line. I will write a post on POD and self-publishing Real Soon, but Arthur A. Levine pre-empts you. Sorry.

I also owe Stationery Queen a rant on Customer Service and everybody a post on The Evils of Present Tense, or I'm a Grumpy, Old-fashioned Bastard. All in good time, folks. But first, this word...

Miss Snark refers us to a post by Arthur A. Levine that contains the text (more or less) of a talk he recently gave to a writer's group in Florida. This is required reading for writers of any and all levels. Herewith, some thoughts inspired by those sage words.

Two of the very biggest considerations for any writer are "Is it true to my vision?" and "Will it sell?". In the best of all possible worlds, there would never be a conflict between these two. In the Real World, however, they often butt heads. Then you face some serious questions:

  • Which is the more important?
  • How much can I compromise one to satisfy the other?
  • Should I compromise at all?
  • How far am I willing to go to make a sale?
Serious questions, indeed, and questions that any writer with hopes of publication has to face and try to answer.

There is a delicate balance between integrity of vision and saleability that is different for every writer. For me, vision and remaining true to myself outweighs sales potential. As I have said before, I am used to being poor. That doesn't mean I particularly like it, but I have discovered that, for me at least, there are other issues in life that are much more important than money. Remaining true to myself is one of those, and I am willing to sacrifice sales to maintain the feeling that I am writing what I need to write and saying what I need to say in a way that I think it needs to be said.

The best writing is the writing that comes from the heart, that expresses your truth, that shows your vision of life and our place in the Universe. Lofty goals? Absolutely. "Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?" (Robert Browning, "Andrea del Sarto"). I couldn't say it better.

The striving for improvement, the dream of the perfect words, the hope that, one day, my story will resonate in someone's heart, that's what I think the life of a writer should be. Perfection is, of course, unattainable, but glory lies in the reaching.


At 11:00 PM, Blogger Melly said...

I came the other day, saw that I was pushed to the back and went away. No, not really. Just kiddin'. I did come but had to leave.

To be honest, I don't really think of these questions. When I write a steaming sex scene, I do chuckle to myself thinking how good this is for sales, or bad depending on the intended market, but I write first.

I have twice written with a specific theme in mind. One worked brilliantly and the other failed miserably.

Oh... I'm just rambling, don't I?

Point is, these are important questions, but I think that while I write they would be distracting.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Hi Melly. Just take a seat, I'll be with you shortly. ;-)

These thoughts are not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. When I'm writing, I'm immersed in the story and thinking about that. I think the biggest point is to let other considerations go and just write from the heart, at least on the first draft. That's what I'm digging for.


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