Friday, February 19, 2010

The Goal of Writing

Often, I get upset if my novels are not selling as well as I'd like, or a review is not as glowing as I think it should be. I have to keep reminding myself why I write, and what being successful, as a writer, means to me. When I get upset or muddled, I like to read the following, which helps to put things back into perspective.

From Mr. W.Somerset Maugham.

"I have never failed to read the Literary Supplement of The Times. It is a salutary discipline to consider the vast number of books that are written, the fair hopes with which their authors see them published, and the fate which awaits them. What chance is there that any book will make its way among that multitude? And the successful books are but the successes of a season. Heaven knows what pains the author has been at, what bitter experiences he has endured and what heartache suffered, to give some chance reader a few hours' relaxation or to while away the tedium of a journey. And if I may judge from the reviews, many of these books are well and carefully written; much thought has gone to their composition; to some even has been given the anxious labour of a lifetime. The moral I draw is that the writer should seek his reward in the pleasure of his work and in release from the burden of his thought; and, indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success."


Aleksandr Voinov said...

I completely agree. I've tried to "live off writing" and it made me absolutely miserable (and scared, so very very scared). Having a day job frees me to write exactly what I like. I'm beholden to no-one, and that has freed me in ways I couldn't have imagined. I still try to sell, but if I can't, I self-publish (it's still my least favourite option, but sometimes I write totally non-commercial stuff).

Anything else - I really don't care. My dayjob will enable me to buy a house, have a pension, and keep myself fed and clothed. Art happens much easier when no scared to death. So, in a way, I'm free to write what I want, because I can afford (in several ways) to not give a toss about actual sales numbers.

AlanChinWriter said...

Yes, writing can be hell if you're not writing what moves you. I agree it pays to not be concerned with money when you write. That way your writing expresses you soul and not you wallet.

Thanks for the thoughtful post.