I’ve been reading a lot of interviews with writers, or about writers, this week. I find that really useful when I’m a bit stuck (inspiration will come. It’s just taking a bit of wander along the way).
Anyway, out of the masses I read, a couple of phrases stuck in my head. First was an interview with Will Self, in the Guardian. (and if I’d known what his books were actually about before now, I’d’ve read them). He said he doesn’t write for readers.
Now this is a question – do we write to please ourselves, or our readers? Of course, we all feel the answer should be to ‘please ourselves’ but what if that doesn’t work?
What if we need to earn a living through writing, and we have to write to please our readers? Does that produce worse work? I’ve been told before to change the style of my writing if I wanted to be published and I refused. (It was a dialogue thing. I wanted it realistic, they wanted it mannered.)
There have been stories of writers who wrote to please themselves all their lives, and were never successful – then were discovered after they were dead. They’re hugely popular now, but it’s late for them. And then there are those who wrote to earn and are now forgotten.
It’s a puzzle.
And of course Gore Vidal died last week, and a collection of 20 of sayings went round the ‘net. One of them, the one that struck me was that he wanted to be a politician, but was born a writer.
I do understand that. I have wanted to be other things – actor, dancer, all kinds of things. I would like to do these – I probably will do them. But what I do, how I define myself is as a writer. The stories in my head have to be told. Whenever I see a blank bit of paper, I itch to start writing on it. I was definitely born a writer, and always will be, whatever else I happen to do.
I have a tendency to collect quotes about writing, to remind of what I do and why. I shall remember these two.