Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Bad Shot

Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel.
-G.K. Chesterton

While this shot was not aimed at me, I feel obiligated to respond. The article starts "If you write fiction, you may be ridng a dead horse," and states
Unfortunately this path is more likely to lead to oblivion than to success. Not only do sales continue to decline as mentioned, but competition with other serious authors for the few slots available is increasingly intense. Your chances of success in selling fiction are slim to none.
I will leave it to someone else to investigate the statistics, the amount of money made by icons like Stephanie Meyers and J.K.Rowling, much less those like J.R.R. Tolkien,who makes more money than a lot of people who have the distinct advantage of being ALIVE.
I wish to comment on the assumptions behind this writing. The author clearly defines 'Sucess' with dollar signs, name recognition, and a spot on the top of The New York Times bestseller list. But some of us don't agree with that. We may want to be sucessful, but sucess might be finally finishing the novel in progress, getting paid for a short story, touching a person's heart.
And as a Christian, I define success as touching someone's heart for God, regardless of fiscal results (although those are nice too. Isaac Asimov said once 'I write for the same reason I breathe- because if I didn't, I would die." But more important is a quote by one of my favorite authors, Bryan Davis, "Write to plesae God, not to please the market. Write what makes you burn with holy fire, not what sizzles through the checkout stand."
So, thanks for the tip, but I think my 'dead horse' might just be a winged stead.


  1. Right on, Galadriel. I read the article, and I agree with you whole-heartedly. Whoever wrote the article obviously defines success according to the reading on the 'rich and famous' scale. I understand that they are a publishing house, and they have to make a living, so the more an author can produce money-wise, the better they like it. But like you, I write not for money and fame but because a) it's what God has called me to do with my life b) I can't help it c)I believe that, especially in our culture, Christians are in desperate need of quality fiction free of indecent content and infused with God-honoring principles.
    Strike me dead the day I begin defining the success of my writing in terms of financial statistics.

  2. Amen. It brings to mind another Bryan Davis quote: "Write for the fullness of your heart, not the emptiness of your pocket."

    Very good post.

  3. Amen! I agree with you whole-heartedly, Galadriel!

    While it would be great to be able to support myself with my writing (or any other creative endeavor), that isn't the reason I do it. Even if I never make it big or gain "success" in the world's eyes, if I've used my passions and talents faithfully in what God calls me to do, I'll have all the joy and satisfaction I need.

    I love both of the author quotes you shared. So true, so true...

  4. Oh, and I just thought I'd add, I'm a lot more optimistic about selling fiction in today's market than whoever wrote that article is. The publishing world is changing drastically, yes. Hey, the whole ENTERTAINMENT world is changing drastically (I mean, just look at The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore! Is it a book? A movie? A game?). I think these radical changes will ultimately offer more opportunities and better pay to fiction writers.
    My 2¢.

  5. I agree with you; the market is not what matters. In a practical sense, your work will be of better quality and of more lasting appeal if your writing is simply good, meaningful, engaging, etc. In a deeper sense, it is more satisfying to truly create something than it is to ride trends, even if the latter makes more money.