So, it just occurred to me … I wasn’t discussing writing, exactly, but another creative pursuit, I think the point still stands, however.
Integrity. At least, that’s what I prefer to call it; some would call it self-indulgence, or selfishness, and really, I’m sure that this post is going to follow a similar vein to the one below it, Writing for Who?
The question is whether or not to give people what they want – although rather than this being a case of toning down work and omitting parts of it, it is more a case of a novel as a whole, for example. Which is better? Writing what people want to read (which, obviously, is a sure fire way to make money), or writing what you believe in? And of course, it’s rather hard to ‘believe’ in the sanctity of violence, gore or mindless sex, so therefore, I’m talking about wider issues; values, for example.
Arguably, it’s not a wise idea to write a book that nobody will be willing to understand, or read. Note the italicized ‘willing’ – this does not necessarily mean that reading the work would be akin to reading something written in an entirely foreign language, but rather that nobody will open their minds to the values expressed. This does entirely depend on the values, of course, and how extreme the stance may be; I have never firmly believed in pushing values upon anyone else. Just because I am agnostic, for example, does not mean that I would forcibly make my writing have an underlying agnostic track to seduce people into my way of believing. I expect comments on this belief shortly following my submission of this post, and I will ignore every one of them – it was an example, not a mouthpiece. However, why should someone sacrifice everything they believe in for others?
This may be superficial, of course. I am not a fan of writing or reading romance novels, I’m afraid I never have been, and unless some extreme hormonal re-balance changes this, I don’t see it happening. I’d like to think I would turn someone down if they offered me £1,000 to write a romantic novel, based purely on the fact that anything I put out there in this vein would be second-rate; I’m no good at it, I wouldn’t want to submit something so terrible for the sake of money. Yet the reality of it is, I don’t know what I would do in that situation; what if I was about to be evicted, or had a bill or fine to pay? It’s incredible how contrary we human beings can be, no?
Yet, I suppose this is where the difference lies, just as there is the difference between writing for oneself and writing for a predisposed audience, there is a difference between staying true to oneself, and selling it all for one of two things: fame or money. There are usually viable reasons behind it, but I, personally, wouldn’t want to know that I’d gotten famous off the back of something I didn’t entirely believe in. This is concrete, even if nothing else is. It also means that I will likely never get published, regardless of whether I try in earnest or not, because people are generally, unwilling to step out of their comfort zones. I’ll admit, I’m one of those people. I’m a picky reader, and there are several pre-requisites a book must have before I even entertain buying it. I won’t list them, but good spelling and grammar are, naturally, a must.
I find it incredible how often these two things go by the by.
I suppose what I am saying in a rather self-indulgent, annoying manner is that there is always a choice to make; integrity, or success. I’m a cynic. You have to sell your soul to get anywhere these days. I like to think this is changing, but I continually reserve judgment on whether or not this is true, because there will always be a trend. It’s no secret that I dislike trends, a lot. It was a secret, until now, that I am broke, jobless, and writing novels that will never get published. It’s not like that should come as a surprise, though. There seems to be a correlation between the two, somewhere along the line.
Would you look at that. Two posts in the space of three days, I think I’ve broken some kind of record. No need to mention that both of these posts are somewhat cynical, bitter, acerbic, disparaging … whatever else you’d like to call them, then.