My novel is going to be a best seller!

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.

                                                         – John F. Kennedy

If your goal is to be the next JK Rowling… writing may not (there is a slight possibility) be right for you.

The Talent: It’s going to be a best seller

Voice of Reason: Now that I think about it, I’ve never even seen you read a book.

I’m not going to emphasize the importance or writing, I’ve done that in enough posts. Nor will I emphasize the importance of writing, because I’ve done that a few times as well, I think. You can check out my old posts in this series here if you want to.

There is something that I want to stress, and that’s the importance of money. As humans we need it, can’t live without it because it ensures life’s necessities: food, water, shelter, clothes and other great stuff. Money is important because it allows us to obtain these things, to continue doing the fun, stupid, pointless, amazing things we as writers do. All money does is mediate, acting as a means to something else. Money’s importance comes from a capitalistic interest in placing an arbitrary value on everything. There’s no reason, really, why a tomato should cost a dollar and a loaf of bread several. There’s no reason why essentials should be marketed to begin with, but that’s another post.

So what does being a millionaire, or a billionaire in Rowling’s case ensure? Even if you are a mildly successful author you’d be able to cover your necessities and guarantee that you continue doing what you love: writing.It’s easy to preach when the audience is a screen, but seriously , two for the money, ten for the art. Your skill as a writer has already been commodified, there’s no need to place added stress on yourself to be an international best seller. No disrespect to those who are of course, or those who desire success, but it shouldn’t be your sole goal.

Don’t compromise your novels, poems, paintings, films or essays solely for the fame or the money. You’ll regret it. At the end of that long, never ending day that is life, you owe authenticity not to your friends, family, job or self; you owe it to your work.

So you want to quit your job?

Copyright by Incidental Comics

I’ll admit, I’ve considered at some point I’ve wanted to be a teacher, doctor, astronomer, astronaut, athlete, chef, painter, director and costume designer , and I’m not even out of school yet! I’ve settled (at the moment) to pursue something in writing.

If you could quit your jog or finish school today, what would you do for the rest of your life (kudos to you if you’re already doing it)? Any of these professions sound appealing?

Cheap carbon copies

It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.

                                                       – Oscar Wilde

You want to write but you don’t read?

The Talent: I’m going to be a writer.

Voice of Reason: I’ve never seen you show even the slightest interest in books.

Some writers disregard the authors of the past, claiming they have no relevance or presence in the world of the modern writer. However, good writing is timeless, it revisits issues that are importance to humans of all sexes, ages, races, classes and times. Every generation reads a work and reads it differently, revealing something new about a novel, poem or play written two hundred years ago.

It may sound tedious and unnecessary, but to write well you should be able to read. Actually, you should be putting your reading into practice. To transform, immerse and captivate a reader with your writing requires first hand experiencing of being compelled by a piece of writing. If you’re unaware of a works affect on yourself how can you hope to even tickle a reader? You don’t have to go and read the entire Cannon, but you do have to read, and read often. Ignoring the greats who came before you doesn’t make you cool, fresh or new. It makes you stupid, as often your works will cheap carbon copies of greater works you’re unaware that you’re even imitating.

Can you divorce reading from writing and still be a good writer?

I’m going to write a novel. For the love of all that is holy, why?

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.

                                                        – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A writer is a reader first

You’ve heard it before: in order to be a good writer you must be well read (we’ll discuss this lovely concept in another post). Read as much as you can and expose yourself to as many diverse authors as you can, writers learn to write from reading others who are masters of writing, and other wonderful pieces of advice that do little to ebb away our anxiety as writers.

I discussed in my I don’t need you to be my hero post that it is important to find your voice as a writer through writing. I made the argument that our influences make us who we are as writers, but we shouldn’t get lost trying to be Fitzgerald, Hemingway or their likes.

So we’ve dealt with the possible extreme of losing your voice through excessive imitation, without exploration of your own writing voice. We’ve yet to look at the debilitating effects of not reading at all. Debilitating? Yes, and I’m sure after this video you’ll be using such words to describe the side effects of not reading at all.

Anyone who wants to be an author needs to watch this video:

What are some of the things that have made you the writer you are? Is being “well read” all that important? What’s your favourite line from the video? I can’t decide, but “I’ve never even seen you read a book,” is golden.