Here’s what’s on my mind today – the business of writing. It is a well-known fact that anything involving the exchange of money from a buyer to a seller is considered a business transaction. And though some authors insist that they only write for the pure passion and joy it brings, the majority (if not all) hope to someday see their words in print – and collect royalties for book sales.There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it brings home the point that authors cannot just “write to write”.
In his 1891 essay “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”, Oscar Wilde wrote:
“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist.”
Now, I agree whole-heartedly with Oscar Wilde and find his point of view to be quite poetic – up until sentence number three; that’s when he loses me. History has shown us that “art for art’s sake” does not a fortune make. Indeed, if Mr. Wilde were alive today, I might do well to hold myself back from asking Dr. Phil’s one-size-fits-all question, “How’s that working for you, Oscar?” In today’s book market (and any industry, for that matter), an artist (author, painter, sculptor, singer, what have you) cannot “create” in his own interest alone. He must take notice of what others want and he must write with his reader in mind.
Now, Wilde would insist that, once an author pay for essay reddit writes to satisfy an audience, he is no longer an artist but an economist and a businessman. I can think of many a current author who would argue vehemently this point of view. In fact, I myself would suggest that the author who can both tell a beautiful and engaging story and satisfy the needs and wants of a particular market in a way no other author currently can – well, that person is more of an artist than the one who merely spills out words on paper and tries to convince a market that it is worthwhile literature.
On Tuesday, August 11, 2009, Nathan Bransford, a well-known literary agent, wrote on his blog, “The authors who engage their audience and inspire devoted clans of fans have a leg up over those who sit back and let the publisher take care of that whole promotional thing or who hope lightning will strike on its own. There’s no such thing as “just an author” anymore, and I suspect there never was.”