My Faith in Writers is Still Devout

Or is it?

Sometimes I read about some writer who’s motivated, it seems, only by cupidity and fame and the salacious trilogy, and I wonder what’s the matter with me.

Sure, the money would be welcome with a book deal, but all I’m hoping for is enough to live off, and if that’s not enough, then I’ll slim down my expectations or my living. Just get more frugal and Occupy a life that is both generous and imaginative and hopefully inspiring on some level to another person. But to have money hound you and drive the ambition? Just doesn’t slip between my spine enough to make the writing interesting. And that’s where it matters for me: to be daring and dangerous in the writing.

Truthfully I find writing easy and living terribly difficult. So trying to figure out how to make tons of cash from the thing I love, well, it just complicates the passion.

And the fame aspect. Well, I suppose we all deserve our 15 minutes of fame, however it comes — even if it’s writing about the Warhol legacy. But to write and nurse celebrity under your crooked arm? Seems a bit like robbing the cradle.

And the trilogy equation is now like some default setting. What ever happened to cycles (like Dune or Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood) or quartets (like Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria one)?

I’m not sure why I’m obsessing about this. Each writer makes his or her own bed and then lies in it — because we are all so good at fabrication.

It just seems to me that more and more I seem to read or hear about writers who bang these big gongs, announcing to all the young writers that, hey, here’s the path for you to follow as a writer: write a blockbuster, zero-in on the money, do the derivative dance, write it quick, sell it off, upgrade from writer to author in no time.

I guess I’m sick of this spectacle. Partly because I don’t know if I have it in me to write some bestselling book and land loads of dough. And why should this be lauded as the only goal, which it  does so often. Why must the avatar of wealth and greed be the commodity of choice, especially when it comes to writing. I mean, is this the goal for all writers now, is this what is expected of us? Is a book just another “For Sale” item, a commodity? Is a writer simply a worker in a book factory?

I suppose it comes down to the question of what is more valuable: a world of excessive greed and financial success with the bizarre tautology of “value for money,” or the intrinsic value of books, written not to promote this way of life, but to challenge it, change it.

I know where I would like to stand on this.


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