Writing by the numbers – 1
Posted June 24, 2010on:
One thing I have noticed in a lot of other people’s blogs on the subject of writing, whether they are agents or authors or editors, is that they repeatedly urge writers to research their area before settling down to put words on paper. ‘Check the marketability of that werewolf novel before you go to the trouble of writing it’, that sort of thing. (Gee, where did the ‘werewolf’ example come from?)
The problem is that I don’t write like that, and I’m not sure I would want to read a book written by someone who did. “Should I write a fantasy novel, or a cookbook? Which pays better?” As I said before, somewhere, I don’t do abstractions well. I can’t write a novel to a demographic (writing by the numbers, get it?), I have to write a book for someone. I write books for me, that I want to read.
In a sense this is a distinction I draw between ‘authors’ and ‘writers’. A lot of people make this distinction, although sometimes which word gets applied to which meaning gets reversed, but the difference is the same. A writer can write whatever he needs to write, on whatever topic. Such a person writes what they are paid to write. It’s not something I do well, if a subject doesn’t interest me I can’t write on it. My blogging suffers when my real life heats up and my focus shifts.
On those occasions when I have to write something I have no feeling for, the trick is to come up with a way to become interested, to bring the subject from the writer domain into the author domain. The alternative is for me to somehow change myself, so that I can write regardless, but I don’t think that would be a very good thing. In a similar way, when I want to get my book into your hands (which is all the time), the trick is not to learn how to sell anything to anyone, but to figure a way to make my book relevent to your life. A demographic has no life to be relevent to.