photo credit: Huffington Post
Let’s begin with a limerick, because they’re fun:
There once was a young man from Austin
who wrote stories one could get lost in.
But the actual cost:
‘Twas the plot that got lost
And his readers just wound up exhausted!
I have decided that, at least for now, I’m going to give up on writing fiction. There are a few reasons for this, but the most notable one is that I am really not good at it. This is not to say that I couldn’t be good, if I were to continue practicing, which I might do in my spare time, but I don’t think there will be much posting of fiction, at least on this blog. (Readers rejoice.)
My writing gifts (modest as they are) lie much more in the realms of non-fiction (read: short opinionated essays that require no research) and poetry, so I think for the most part I want to concentrate on these.
Fiction still appeals very strongly to me, but I have to confess a great deal of this appeal comes from the possibility of selling a work of fiction and reaping either financial rewards or notoriety. Neither of these should be goals of mine, at least not if I am writing purely for the sake of writing. If they end up being ancillary advantages, I wouldn’t turn them down, but if they are an objective, if they are an intent, then my work will be tainted, even if it ends up being well-respected. I have talked before about my feelings regarding bandwagon fiction, and though I am hardly alone or revolutionary in this outlook, I nevertheless feel that the perversion of writing (or the co-opting of it, perhaps) simply for the sake of financial gain leads to phenomena like this, and shortly thereafter what would previously have been called “romance” novels completely overwhelm the “Fiction and Literature” section at the bookstore.
I don’t want any part of this, and I do not wish to be a writer who succumbs to any emotionally dishonest trend. But let’s be realistic: I was light-years away from this objective anyway. The first step in making marketable fiction is to write something that interests people, and I haven’t done that yet, at least not in my fiction. But regardless, I want to at least nip in the bud the proclivity for sacrificing art, sacrificing the potential to make something truly meaningful, on the altar of success.
And just as a disclaimer, do not think I am of the opinion that all writers who have achieved a level of financial success or critical acclaim are doing something wrong. I am reminded of this verse, though it is perhaps only loosely applicable:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’” – Matthew 19:23-24
I think the same is perhaps true of people who are truly following a calling. Perhaps it is not impossible to remain artistically uncompromised following success, but it sure is freaking difficult. That’s why I don’t even want to start down that path at all. Instead, if you want to find me, I’ll be in the (pitifully meager) poetry aisle.