What the hell is writing for anyway?
Take this blog for instance. I treat as my thinking pad in many ways. I write what I think and I expect that sometimes I will make mistakes and not be thinking clearly and hope that when that happens others will take the time to engage with me and discuss my shortcomings. I can choose to agree or disagree. Regularly I will change my mind and so I do not mind that this blog presents my latest thoughts first. I have no intention of using the material in print unless someone is very eager to have my thoughts on their pages (Which I doubt). So I have a realistic goal for my writing. I know what I intend to achieve and what I expect, therefore I have no illusions about who or what I am or what I write.
Reality in writing goals on a wider level in the writing/publishing industry would be refreshing. Many writers however seem to think that they have a divine right to publication, which clearly they don’t. Many others seem to believe that the publishing industry is doing them a great injustice when in fact their writing is either non-commercial or just bad.
Writers need to ask themselves why they are writing and realistically assess their abilities. Once they have done that their options become much clearer. If you are writing for yourself and never want to show it to anyone, great, write and lock it up on a hard drive or in notebooks. Society may lose a gifted writer but the purpose was personal so that’s fine.
If you are writing for others then make sure you know the purpose of writing. If it is like my writing when interaction and thinking are the goals then why do you need publication in print? A blog or personal website will surely achieve your goals if they are modest and on a scale such as mine. And what is more if you really want to see your words in print them create a blook yourself and self publish. Costs are low and you will never need to hold a huge stock if you go Print on Demand.
If you are more ambitious then perhaps you do really need to learn how to approach a publisher or an agent. But before you do surely you need to assess the market for the type of writing you do, the number of competitor writers in the area, the type of price books like yours sell for and perhaps even the quality of the writing compared to your own.
It seems to me that authors fall generally into our categories. Those who say they are not writing for money but for the enjoyment/love/art and really mean what they say. Those who say they are not writing for money but for the enjoyment/love/art and really don’t mean what they say. Those who freely acknowledge that they are writing for money/fame/notoriety. Finally there are the bunch of authors who have no idea, not why they are writing, not who they are writing or, not how the industry works, nor what they hope to achieve and are just writing because they think it’s a good idea. Of the bunch I much prefer the first and the third.
The first because they are honest and really do value the writing for its own sake. For them self-publishing is no crime, that just what it takes to get published sometimes. The third because they too are honest and really do just want fame fortune and all that comes with that.
Too many writers occupy the second and last groups. As technology makes publishing easier it will make publishing for all four groups. For the first group that is wonderful news. Blogs for them are great tools. If they also attract an audience that would be a bonus. For the second it will be tough as endless self promotion will no doubt undermine their affection to not caring about the fame/cash/etc. For the third it will be as useful and wonderful a tool as for the first. They can embrace their writing and their self promotion shamelessly and build fame and fortune more easily. For the last group who know nothing about their goals or hopes with writing they will form the bulk of online writing, pointless, unheralded with the odd gem which may well be picked up by some sharp eyed editor and embraced.
In short, the internet will force many authors to ask questions about their writing and why they are writing. That will clarify purpose and enable just perhaps a bit more clarity in this industry, maybe. Alternatively it could result in millions more authors of the fourth kind! In fact when you think of the 47million blogs that technorati.com now follows perhaps it already has.