In my last post on writing, I talked about the two doors one can choose as a writer–writing for “the market” and writing “for myself”.
As some of you pointed out, it ain’t necessarily an either-or proposition. As writers who are artists, we have an obligation to write authentically. As writers with bills to pay, we have an obligation to write something that will cover that pesky mortgage. I believe we can meet both obligations.
The key thing, I think, is not to lose the connection between “why I write” and “why I read”. As a number of you noted, the “why I write” often boils down to “it changes me emotively.” And the “why I read” boils down to “it changes me emotively.” There will be a disconnect if the thing that changes the author emotively doesn’t change the reader emotively. But there will be a powerful author-reader connection when the author and reader are moved by the same thing.
I have said this many times, but it bears repeating: your goal as a novelist is to create a Powerful Emotional Experience in your reader. That’s what it means to be marketable. And you can do that best as a writer if that Powerful Emotional Experience is one that you have first experienced yourself. That’s what it means to be authentic.
The trick, of course, is to sift through all that therapeutic writing you do and filter out all the stuff that nobody is going to care about. What you want is to find those Powerful Emotional Experiences within yourself that are going to resonate with somebody other than you.
This is one reason we have editors–to point out those parts of our work that nobody is going to give a flip about. And to highlight those parts that really resonate.