Has anyone ever told you that if you’re writing to be published, you’re writing for all the wrong reasons?
If so, I hope you calmly and politely asked what exactly are the “right reasons” to be writing. The answer you were given most likely included some combination of the words love, passion, and free.
But the truth is that if you’re not writing to be published then you’re writing for all the wrong reasons.
Writing isn’t like playing golf. It isn’t a hobby that you do for yourself that only a select few can ever be successful at. Whether you believe it or not, writing isn’t a solitary game you play with no audience, either.
Quite the contrary: Every word you write is written with a specific audience in mind.
Whether you’re writing a story for a literary journal, a letter to the local newspaper, a note to your wife, a love letter to your mistress, or an entry in your diary, you’re writing something for someone to read. In essence, you’re writing to be published. Maybe not for pay, but you’re “publishing” nonetheless.
Your target audience may only be one person. It may even be yourself if it’s a personal journal entry or a shopping list, but no matter what it is you’re writing, you’re writing with the purpose of conveying an idea to a reader.
I often wonder if the “love of the craft” crowd is objecting more to the idea of writing for money than the idea of writing for an audience. Even if that is the case, they are so sadly making an error in their judgement. To make a moral argument against writing for pay is the same as making a moral argument against performing any task or job for pay.
And even worse, it implies that the ideas created by the writer do not specifically belong to the writer and should instantly become public domain as the ink hits the paper.
Anyhow, I didn’t mean to wander off into Ayn Rand territory there, but I just want to restate the opinion that anything anyone writes is written with an audience in mind. So even if publishing is considered “the wrong reason” by a select handful of intellectual snobs, even they are writing for an audience of some sort and they should respect your motives just as much as they expect you to respect theirs.
But honestly, you shouldn’t bother getting hung up on what people think. Write, submit your work, and have fun doing it. And don’t be afraid to get a bone tossed your way for it.
What do you think? Is getting published a “moral” reason to be writing, or should love of the craft be the sole motive behind your art? Leave a comment and let us know!