Not long ago, I answered the question of whether I’d write if I never had a reader (see Time to be Honest). The answer was no. If no one ever read my work, I wouldn’t see the point.
But I read a tweak to the question in James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers. He quoted George Bernau: “I decided that I would continue to write as long as I lived, even if I never sold one thing, because that was what I wanted out of my life.”
That fits. I understand that. I agree with it because I differentiate between “never sold one thing” and “never had a reader.” If I never make a penny from my work, I’d still write. Want proof? Look at this blog. Look at all the blogs where I’ve written guest posts and never expected or received more than a thank you.
This clarifies even more the “Why do I write” question and zeroes in on the idea that I write for an audience. Doesn’t matter that it’s not a paying audience, just that it’s someone or a group of someones who I can entertain, educate, or enlighten, or who God can reach through me.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I’ll be giving my book away when it comes out, let me hand you a parachute, because that’s going to be one rough landing. Of course, I’d love to sell books. I’d love to build a following of devoted readers who can’t wait until my next big hit arrives. Readers who deem my work worthy of the full price and not Amazon’s discount. That’s the dream of every novelist.
Will I be disappointed if it doesn’t happen? Absolutely. Will I quite writing? No. At worst, my blog readers will see a change in tone here at Peppermint Place–a change that will no doubt come complete with a distinct whine while I lick my wounds and make tearful declarations about the unfairness of the entire publishing world. Eventually, my readers will be treated to an enthusiastic post about my next great idea and how this one will wow ’em! because, in the long run, I’m a writer and I want to write. And as long as this blog has readers, I will–whether I ever sell anything or not.