What Is the Fairest of Them All?

You know those thoughts that leave craters in the skull? I’ve got one.

What’s more important as a writer?

1. To write books as a lifestyle choice

2. To purely make money

3. To write for vanity reasons

4. To write to make even a small difference in the world

5. To write a book as a cultural intervention

6. To write a bourgeois fashion accessory

7. Communicate something new

8. Sharing egalitarian imagination

9. Challenge a reader and myself to risk something, anything

10. Reanimate the ghost town that is called contemporary fiction

11. Breed like a fucking rabbit new life into old ideas

12. Silence the damn foghorn that publishing is in decline, books are dead

13. Prove that social change is not passé or an academic pursuit

14. Spark discussion

15. A passionate appeal to mind and body

16. Avoid facile populism

17. Bet on readers’ intelligence

18. Be at once lucid as well as conceptually dense

19. To make the writing one’s own, not some slogan to the lord of derivative

20. Have a sexy selling point

21. Write a book that makes something happen emotionally or intellectually

22. Create honesty through fiction

23. Love it

24. Confuse the senses

25. Deliver a vision no matter how warped

26. A longing for that elusive intimacy with the other

27. To share a gift

28. Satisfy the mad ego

29. To usurp the competition

30. To prove to all the naysayers; agitate all the naysayers

31. To be the other

32. To do it no matter what

33. To sell out

34. To never, ever give in

35. To never compromise, even when your back’s against the wall and even the wall has gone

36. To prove that a person can live their own life in their way

37. Make combat, not love

38. Make love, not combat

39. Create the dissenting voice, any voice other than the endless drone

40. Fling apart the world atom by atom and build it anew

41. Refuse to write the low mimetic

42. Kick realism in the imaginary balls

43. Fight for your right to be heard in the din, but not as more noise

44. Because nobody else will write that book for you

I wonder if I ever have to choose?

“If people are writing books as a lifestyle choice or purely to make money or out of personal vanity then obviously people will stop caring eventually, because literature has become indistinguishable from wine or wrapping paper or jewelry or lingerie or any other consumer product.” Alex Niven, Zer0 Books

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