In the past week, we’ve talked about why you WRITE and why you READ fiction. And they’re not identical. Oh sure, there’s some overlap.
But scan through all those reasons people write fiction and you’ll find something interesting. For a lot of us, writing is therapy. Cheap therapy, but often amazingly effective.
On the other hand, most of us read fiction as a way of escape from our present wretched reality.
In both cases, it’s all about me. When I wear my writing hat, it’s all about me and my life. When I wear my reading hat, it’s all about me getting away from it all.
Now the problem is that our readers are not us. (Oh, those pesky readers!) Our readers, bless them, are wanting to get away from THEIR wretched reality, and they don’t necessarily want to wade through OUR therapy to do so.
There are two extremes we writers can choose:
1) I can “write for the market” and produce stuff that the readers want to read, even if it doesn’t contain a lot of inner truth to it. (I.e., MY inner truth.)
2) I can “write my truth” and produce fiction that is deeply meaningful to me (but maybe not to another soul on the planet).
What’s a writer to do? If we choose Door Number 1, then we’re “market whores.” If we take Door Number 2, then we’re “self-obsessed artistes”.
Every writer has to choose where to be on this spectrum. The ideal situation is to write fiction that is deeply meaningful to ME and appeals to zillions of readers. This is a lot harder than it looks. A LOT harder.
I don’t have an easy answer on this one. If it were easy, most writers would be writing best-selling Pulitzer-Prize-winning fiction. But most writers aren’t, and never will.