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Bubastes
01-05-2010, 09:33 PM
Interesting blog post that, IMO, has a lot of merit because it forces you not to take the reader for granted.


When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer, must give him something worthy of his gift to you. (bolding mine)

http://blog.stevenpressfield.com/2009/10/writing-wednesdays-2-the-most-important-writing-lession-i-ever-learned/

CaroGirl
01-05-2010, 09:39 PM
Despite the vulgarity, he has an excellent point and one we should all keep in mind as we set our shit to paper.

Matera the Mad
01-05-2010, 10:02 PM
Or, as I am fond of saying, "Respect your readers." It's the Golden Rule applied to the writer/reader relationship. Without it, writing is an auto-erotic exercise.

mamaesme
01-05-2010, 10:26 PM
Or at least write a novel that doesn't a) insult the reader's intelligence, b) have a convoluted and horrible plot, and c) is plagued with 'i'm-better-than-you' characters.

Sorry, fuming over the last two books I've bought (and twenty four dollars wasted). They were horribly written and very static. One was four hundred pages of a who dunit that I figured out within twenty pages when it was suppose to be a romance novel. And the second was a bastardization of Jane Austen, with vampires.

Where did the good writers go?

mscelina
01-05-2010, 10:31 PM
I always thought of it like this: writing a story is a gift. It's the gift you agonize over at Christmastime, trying to figure out the perfect gift for that perfect someone. It appeals to their tastes, it reflects their personality, it sparks their interest. Once you have the gift, you make the effort to wrap it up perfectly, with the paper creased and crisp and a coordinating bow on top. Then, on the tag, you write: For You, With Love--Celina.

And the best part of it all? It's watching that person open the gift, ripping away the paper and getting excited just at the sight of what you've labored over.

Writing a great story should always be more about the reader than the writer. JMHO, of course, but there you have it.

swvaughn
01-05-2010, 11:27 PM
Oh, my, I love that man. :D

I also worked in advertising for <way too many> years, and every other person I worked with had Client's Disease. I can't count the number of times I hung up the phone after another ridiculous interview where I was told, "Just talk about my book, and everyone will instantly want to interview me", and screamed at the dead receiver, "Nobody cares about your book! Especially Oprah!"

I used to be an evil, soulless advertising person, forcing people to buy into things they didn't (and often shouldn't) want. I spun angles, I polished straws, I pulled single strands of quasi-interesting information from reams of crap and wrote misleading words praising that little strand that had little to do with anything I was allegedly promoting.

Those were the days. *wipes away tears of fond reminiscence*

C.M.C.
01-06-2010, 01:10 AM
It's also a very good case to be made for writing what you damn well want, and not trying to fit your work into a little box you think people want to open.

Jamesaritchie
01-06-2010, 01:53 AM
Just write the book you want to read and forget everything else.

Chris P
01-06-2010, 02:07 AM
I recently experienced the stiff reality check of realizing that my books are never going to mean to others what they mean to me. It made me confront the question of why I write in the first place. Both sides of the issue have been presented here; write what you want or write what the reader wants. Is it possible for me (I know others can) to do both? What do I want? What do I need to do to get it? What happens if I don't succeed (the stakes)?

Fippidy-dip, I'm a character in my own novel!

Shadow_Ferret
01-06-2010, 02:13 AM
I don't understand his point. Why doesn't anyone want to read my shit? If that's truly the case, then why are any of us even bothering to write?

Celia Cyanide
01-06-2010, 02:25 AM
I don't understand his point. Why doesn't anyone want to read my shit? If that's truly the case, then why are any of us even bothering to write?

Exactly. What if Stephanie Meyer had said, "Nobody wants to read about vampires who aren't scary and don't kill people"? Oh, wait...

StoryG27
01-06-2010, 02:30 AM
Just write the book you want to read and forget everything else.
QFT.


That's what it comes down to for me, I write books I'd want to read. It's really that simple in my mind. If no one else wants to read them then I fail, but I know no other way to write.

Bubastes
01-06-2010, 02:35 AM
Interesting. What I got out of the article was a bit different. I read it to mean that if you expect the reader to invest their limited time and energy on your writing, respect it. It's not all about you (generic "you") if you're writing to communicate.

icerose
01-06-2010, 02:41 AM
I think there's plenty of room for balance. First write the book you want, second do everything in your power to make it a book others want to read too by making it the best damn book you can.

backslashbaby
01-06-2010, 02:45 AM
It sounds similar to something I read a long, long time ago that rings true for me. In writing, the biggest question is "So what?"

So when you write that long infodump and find it thrilling, try to approach it again as a reader, who will very likely say, "So what?!"

Try to stump all the naysayers. Make it interesting as hell. How to do that is the hard part! Boring isn't so hard to see if you really watch for it, OTOH.

Shadow_Ferret
01-06-2010, 03:19 AM
Exactly. What if Stephanie Meyer had said, "Nobody wants to read about vampires who aren't scary and don't kill people"? Oh, wait...

I'm still confused. EVERYONE reads Meyer's shit. Everyone reads Stephen King's shit. Everyone reads Dan Brown's shit. Everyone read's JK Rowlings' shit.

So why wouldn't they read my shit?

What the hell is this guy talking about?

DWSTXS
01-06-2010, 03:22 AM
He's right. Nobody wants to read my shit.

My answer: Tough shit. I am still going to write. Someday, somebody will read it.

Toothpaste
01-06-2010, 03:30 AM
I'm still confused. EVERYONE reads Meyer's shit. Everyone reads Stephen King's shit. Everyone reads Dan Brown's shit. Everyone read's JK Rowlings' shit.

So why wouldn't they read my shit?

What the hell is this guy talking about?


Look at it like this. No one is OBLIGATED to read your shit. That's the point. The point is no one owes you anything, and many writers feel that if they just write something well then people will love it. But writers need to remember the market, need to remember they are writing for people.

Maybe it's best to quote this part of the blog:


When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer, must give him something worthy of his gift to you.

It's basically saying, when you write, don't do it in a vacuum. It's the same argument I make all the time. If you don't respect your audience, if you don't realise that they are giving you their time by choosing to read your work, then why on earth should they respect you.

(btw, this doesn't mean compromise on what you want to write, you can write for a smaller audience, it doesn't have to be a massive Twilight readership grab - but anyone who doesn't at some point when they write think about their audience, in my mind, isn't writing a novel. They're writing a journal)

Shadow_Ferret
01-06-2010, 03:49 AM
I know no one owes me anything. I also understand that reading is a form of entertainment and there is a ton of other options out there for their time and money.

But I write the kind of stuff I like to read. So my audience is people who enjoy the same things I read and enjoy. I make no pretensions that I'll have any sort of best seller, but I think people will read my shit.

Guess I'd have gotten his message if he hadn't been swearing at me.

JMBlackman
01-06-2010, 04:33 AM
but anyone who doesn't at some point when they write think about their audience, in my mind, isn't writing a novel. They're writing a journal)

I think that's a really good point.

Of course, you (general you) should write what you want to write how you want to write it, but if you don't think, "will that make sense/be interesting/be entertaining/be moving for someone else?" then, I don't see what the point is in publishing.

XxDethmetalxX
01-06-2010, 05:44 AM
Why wouldn't anyone want to read about God discussing philosophy with a giant cockroach, or clockwork robot uprisings?

I'm with with the ferret: if people will read Meyer's shit (a pretty fitting descriptor), then someone, somewhere, will want to read my shit.

Exir
01-06-2010, 07:25 AM
Wow. Great blog post.

LOG
01-06-2010, 07:36 AM
When you, the student writer, understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy.
No, no, not really.
I don't give a flipping roaches tarsus if people really fall in love with my book. First and foremost, I write the story for MY sake. Writing for the sake of others is the business of the journalist. When a writer seeks to write only what they believe their readers want, in a manner that they can understand, they cease to inspire. Because the one thing people really want is creativity. Besides, the variation of psyche between the people of the world ensures that attempting to stand in the shoes of the audience is futile, since you are still a writer looking on your own work. Some people can handle Tolkien, some can't. That's not just Tolkien's style, it's a trait of human beings.
I will write the book so it can be understood. I will not write in an attempt to cater to the reader.
If I don't love my work because it's mine, then I might as well throw the computer into the swamp right now.

scarletpeaches
01-06-2010, 07:41 AM
No, no, not really.
I don't give a flipping roaches tarsus if people really fall in love with my book. First and foremost, I write the story for MY sake. Writing for the sake of others is the business of the journalist.No, it's the business of any writer who expects anyone to give up their time, money and effort for the sake of the book.
When a writer seeks to write only what they believe their readers want, they cease to inspire.Who says keeping the reader in mind means you write only what they want?
If I don't love my work because it's mine, then I might as well throw the computer into the swamp right now.I think people misunderstand the OP.

Simple answer? Don't write shit.

And quit moaning. (Not you, I mean people in general).

If people don't want to read your shit and you don't understand why, give up. The world doesn't owe you a readership.

megan_d
01-06-2010, 08:41 AM
No, no, not really.
I don't give a flipping roaches tarsus if people really fall in love with my book. First and foremost, I write the story for MY sake.

But you still want people to give you money in exchange for your book, yes?

Exir
01-06-2010, 08:48 AM
It's about finding a middle-ground. Write something that BOTH inspires you AND inspires others. Doing only one of them is inadequate.

Libbie
01-06-2010, 09:32 AM
Yeah, I agree that it's well stated. You really do need to remember that you've got to make it accessible enough that somebody actually wants to spend their valuable time reading it.

In my early to mid twenties, I did a lot of dumb writing that was all cryptic and vague. I thought I was being DEEEEEEEP and EXPLOORRRRING the DEPTHS of my SOOOUUUULLL. Now I realize I was being a dick, because I was writing shit that nobody else could relate to, and nobody wanted to read.

I'm glad I matured out of that phase. I just wish I'd figured all this out a lot sooner.

SPMiller
01-08-2010, 04:09 AM
All he's really saying is to keep your audience in mind as you write. That's not exactly a novel idea. Anyone who has been to high school knows (or should know) that. But I guess a little repetition never hurt anybody.

fullbookjacket
01-08-2010, 05:31 AM
This discussion reminds me of what my father-in-law used to say to clients. He was a Certified Public Accountant before retiring and often was a consultant to persons interested in starting a business. The would-be entrepreneur would describe at great length and with much passion his or her life dream, a new business to make and sell widgets.

Father-in-Law would politely listen to the misty-eyed pitch and then ask two questions: "So what? And who cares?"

If the entrepreneur could adequately answer those questions, he or she had a chance of being successful. F-I-L wasn't trying to piss on their dream, he just wanted them to understand what they were up against and to not go into it with the romantic notion that anyone gave a flying f*** about their little dream.

AuburnAssassin
01-08-2010, 06:22 PM
Nobody thinks they want to read your shit. That's why A) you have to market it and B) you have to write interestingly enough to pick up where the marketing leaves off.

mario_c
01-09-2010, 09:29 AM
This thread seems familiar. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154579&highlight=fucking+script)

Toothpaste
01-09-2010, 06:26 PM
Actually, though it sounds like the same thing, that other thread was about a professional writer explaining he is under no obligation to critique a person's work (it came out of his doing a friend a favour, and after all his work his friend was defensive and dismissive of his help). This thread is about making sure writers don't write in a vacuum, that they write remembering eventually readers are going to read their work.

Sevvy
01-09-2010, 06:58 PM
Because the one thing people really want is creativity.

If this was true, than my last trip to the bookstore wouldn't have been filled with vampire novels and wizard detectives.

Just saying.

Libbie
01-09-2010, 07:15 PM
If this was true, than my last trip to the bookstore wouldn't have been filled with vampire novels and wizard detectives.

Just saying.

Hahaha!

Touche.

analias
01-09-2010, 11:08 PM
It seems like quite a few people here took the blog post to mean "Nobody wants to read the stuff you write"

What I took it to mean is "Just because you crapped out a bunch of words on the screen doesn't mean people are going to want to read it. You're obligated to go back and tune it up and tighten it and make it a worthwhile read."

If this thread isn't a lesson (and a pretty ironic one) in why word choices matter, I don't know what is.

backslashbaby
01-09-2010, 11:15 PM
:D I thought it was ironic, too.

Is it word choice or reading comprehension, though? I might just need to put my WIP away and take a deep sigh ;)

Miss T
01-12-2010, 09:48 AM
Sorry, fuming over the last two books I've bought (and twenty four dollars wasted). They were horribly written and very static.... And the second was a bastardization of Jane Austen, with vampires.

Out of curiosity, what book was that? I've actually noticed a few of them lately.

MGraybosch
01-12-2010, 10:28 PM
So, this is basically a cruder way of saying, "You are not entitled to an audience"?

Emily Winslow
01-12-2010, 11:30 PM
So, this is basically a cruder way of saying, "You are not entitled to an audience"?

That's how I took it.

blacbird
01-13-2010, 12:37 AM
This thread is about making sure writers don't write in a vacuum, that they write remembering eventually readers are going to read their work.

I used to think that, too. Silly me.

caw

crazynance
01-20-2010, 12:51 AM
Simple answer? Don't write shit.



Don't be so enamoured of your own work that you don't look at it realistically. Have you just written 110,000 words of drivel? Fix it!

I wrote my Nano this year, reached 50,000 words and realized that it's going to have to be compressed to 5 or 10 thousand, because I actually focused to intently on the intro! It was boooooooooooooooooring. IMHO. :D Now I have some exciting ideas to add to it.

The Lonely One
01-20-2010, 04:06 AM
Just write the book you want to read and forget everything else.

Quoted for emphasis.

I liked what CMC said about writing what you "damn well want," but I find James' statement only slightly more accurate for my tastes.

What you would like to read is sometimes different from what you would like to write. And if you don't want to read what you wrote...there's fuck-all hope of you selling your "shit" (to keep on track with the thread) to anyone else.

Treyfan
01-21-2010, 06:44 AM
Interesting topic. All of you have written beautifully. I just love stimulating conversation!

I only submit to a place so to test myself as a writer, not for glory or anything else. I see it all as a learning experience, as an opportunity for me to grow as an individual (as well as an author!)

Having a "following" might satisfy my ego, but it isn't my motivation for writing! I don't CARE if anyone reads my stuff! I write because I need it--not because I need my readers.

If people fall in love with my stuff, great! If they don't, I'm not going to cry about it. I don't expect anything when I send out a piece for publication. I hope on the inside, but I don't go into it "expecting" to be the next JK Rowling. I'm not in it for the money--and I think that's the big difference.

I have too much respect for myself to start "catering" to a specific market/genre. Trend-setters force their readers to cater to them! I pride myself on being unique and original and that is so much more important than book sales (at least for me).

Just look around the bookstore today. They're all Twilight knockoffs.

It disgusts me and makes me sad.

There are so many authors so desperate for the "sales" and the "fan base" that they'll resort to crap-o-la in place of originality. I don't write for the "average reader" because most of them are too stupid to know a good book when they see one anyways. I'll do without them, thanks.

This principle works for me.

I recieved my very first fan letter this week for a sci-fi short I wrote. I can't tell you how happy it made me! Just knowing ONE person found it interesting was enough for me. I'll never cater to anyone but myself, and those who get it will get it.

And if you're a good writer...if you're bold and unique, SOMEONE will get it eventually, and for me, that's all its about! It's why I do it!

:D