Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's Your Motivation?

I was so excited that the next and final book in a series was coming out, the one that would answer the questions and provide that "aaaah" moment for me, I hoped, when storylines that were flying in the wind would be tied together, at least somewhat. Well, a reader can dream, right?

I didn't buy the book right away, but I did read some reviews, and what I read was enough to put me off of this much-anticipated finale. But it wasn't only the bad reviews; combine them with author interviews, where it had been flatly stated by the writer that some titles in the series were written only to fulfill a quota in the contract or only to satisfy the demand for another book in the series and not to further the story or satisfy a desire or need to write more in this fictional world ... and I don't need to read any more.

The author committed a sin against the reader by churning out sub-par titles. And worse than that, the publishing company--a giant, established, brick-and-mortar publishing house in New York with a solid reputation--let it happen. Put money before readers. Such a disappointment. The reader always deserves respect.

Sadly, this is not the only recent title that I've seen with similar fluff and circumstance; another writer with a huge social media following whose previous books were filled with honest revelation and connection seems to have lost that connection. But the publisher continues to capitalize on the name recognition; the titles come out and the content just isn't there and it seems like a street hustler's shell game. The reader always loses. The writer loses credibility. The publisher always wins.

I have to wonder, what's the motivation for this? Just the money? I hope not. If you study writers past and present, there is a common thread: great writers write because they have to, it's a compulsion, something that almost cannot be helped. I'm not just talking untouchable literary figureheads; even the popular writers, churning out great book after great book every year--they have it. They have that magic combination of something to say, a new way to say it and respect for the reader on the other end of the process.

You write for yourself first, when you tease that thread of story out of your subconscious and stitch it into a story on the page; but unless it's meant to be a personal diary entry, you must recognize that you're also writing for the reader.

My advice to writers is simple:
Step 1: Write because you have a story to tell.
Step 2: Sell your writing because you have bills to pay.
Step 3: Do not skip step one.

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