When I tell people I’m writing a story, the first question they always ask (aside from “What? Really?”) is “are you going to publish it?” Which I guess is fair enough. I would love to be a published author someday – I really would. However, my answer at the moment just has to be “I don’t know.” This brings me to two points. My reason for saying this and their response to this answer.
Approaching the latter first, the most common response I get is one that has begun to really annoy me. More often than not, people will respond by saying “If you aren’t going to publish it, then what is the point in writing it?” Cue my blood starting to simmer. Without turning this into a rant, I would like to pose these people a question in response – what benefit do you gain from your hobbies? What benefit is there from playing computer games all day aside from the sheer fun of it? We can’t all be Park Sung-Joon, getting paid to play StarCraft all day. What benefit is there to watching television or films? Aside from a wealth of hilarious quotes applicable to any conceivable situation, that is. Are you training to be a critic? Oh right, it’s just fun. It’s entertaining. This is why I write. It is my hobby. Even if a respected critic read my work, laughed and told me I should never put fingers to keys again, would I listen to them? No, because I’m doing this for other people as much as people watch TV or play games for others (ie. I’m not).
Even if my sole purpose for writing was to become a published author, I would still continue to write stories I have no intention of trying to get published. Writing well is not a skill one just picks up and away they go to the publishers. Writing well is hard and it takes a lot of practice. I think it’s a bit of a tall order to expect that every idea that comes out of someone’s head is nothing short of genius. People have bad ideas but they can be ideas that they still love themselves. So why shouldn’t they write them? Aside from the sheer enjoyment, every story written teaches the author something about writing.
Now, onto point two. Why would I, someone who would love to be an author, not send away the works I have shed blood, sweat and tears into? The simple answer is that I just don’t think this is what publishers are looking for. When reading the criteria publishers look for in novels, one of the big mentions I see coming up frequently is an issue of genre. I don’t think the particular stories I’m writing at the moment really fit into predetermined genre expectations and I don’t have any intention of changing them that dramatically. To fix my concerns the alterations to the story would leave it unrecognisable and then they wouldn’t be the same stories that I love, would they? Obviously, I am not referring to small changes here – anyone getting published has to resign themselves to those. I just don’t want to have the very fabric of the story removed. (Not what I’m talking about here but as a slight aside, here is one shocking request some authors have been given.)
I think I’ve managed to avoid ranting. Maybe. Anyway, the gist of what I’m saying is – writing is fun. I do it for me and if I ever churn something out that might be publishable, you bet your bottom that bad boy is getting sent to a publisher. And, if that never ever happens, I’ve still had hours and hours of fun and what have I lost? That’s right. Nothing.