Has this situation happened to you?
Fortunately, none of my old college friends are afflicted with such a materialistic mentality. This meeting did not happen in a book fair, but at a dinner for young professionals at the Ecole Polytechnique. I was so well dressed that newcomers automatically takes me for a successful businesswoman. I had this same air as this comic character…then, it is when they realize that I am a humble self-employed worker that potential contacts shy away.
For some media, the value of an artist or writer is primarily related to his or her financial success.
I do not scorn entrepreneurship itself, since I lead my own business. In a recent lecture given at a dinner of the AFAF, I mentioned that building a business, any kind of business, requires a good dose of creativity!
SF and fantasy author Dean Wesley Smith (a prolific author who gives advice to young writers, his site is worth a visit) takes writing as a serious business. According to him, if you do not make a living from your writing, it is because you do not write enough or want it, work hard enough. This appears like a disdainful view of people whose productivity do not match his own. But the reasoning works also to remind us that we often find excuses for… not writing.
Well, there is an area for nuance or discussion, and all our situations and writing goals are not the same. I like to dig a lot of infos for my SF novels… besides doing comics as well. DWS believes in writing a lot, and submitting a lot, and taking care of the business end. With a hundred novels published in twenty years or so, he is an Olympic writing athlete himself! (A page in 10 or 15 minutes… faster than me, even when I have the story clear in my head).
This year, he gave himself the challenge to write 100 short stories for 2011. Yes, a hundred! There is already eight published, between 2500 and 6000 words each. It is fortunate that he repeats that every writer is different! Nevertheless, his blog “Killing the sacred cows of publishing” offers great pointers and unorthodox advices.
DWS is very optimistic. In his opinion, publishers are always looking for new voices. And that too much rewriting “blunts” your creative voice, the personal, original part of the creation.
It happened to me for my first novel Ithuriel (16 agonizing rewrites!), so his message resonates strongly with me. Obviously, DWS revises to correct the “ortograf”, or flagrant errors or blunders. But after that he rewrites only if his editor asks him. And after the contract is signed…
It was a stimulating reading for me. Dean Wesley Smith’s advices have the effect of empowering a writer, reminding that he or she is not at the mercy of “the market” or agents. And to put the pleasure back in writing. Writers can achieve a good measure of “success” with effort and perseverance, without sacrificing their unique voice.