Passion, Purpose, Profession

“No one forces you to ply the trade you follow. But if you do choose it, then acquit yourself to the best of your ability. And above all, you should not think of writing as a way of earning your living. If you do, your work will smell of poverty. It will be colored by your weakness and be as thin as your hunger. There are other trades which you can take up… Our opinion of you will not be any poorer, and since you will be sparing us acres of boredom, we may even think the better of you.” – Essay on Novels; The Marquis de Sade

I’ve been pondering this subject as I scribble (not literally) furiously during this National Novel Writing Month of November. Why on earth does one choose to pursue this challenge? Or for that matter, why choose the whole pursuit of writing and story telling? Surely, its not for the money…

There has to be that voice in your head whispering or shouting at you: ‘tell my story, it needs to be heard and you are the only one who can tell it.’ The voice has to be louder than the voices telling you you can’t do this, that you shouldn’t do this. And when you write, you must tell that story in just the way you want to, not pandering to what is popular or what you think will sell. That is not to say that your writing loses artistic integrity if it becomes commercially successful. We all want to sell books. It loses artistic integrity if your primary goal is to become commercially successful, because then you will write as a salesman not as an author.

So… write well, write from your heart and this month, if you’re participating in the insanity, write A LOT!

45 thoughts on “Passion, Purpose, Profession

  1. Great post, Meg, and something I think about almost every day! When I’m stuck at work, doing my full-time (non-dream) job. I sit here and think “I want to be home writing” or “I wish I could be making money writing” but it’s never the desire to get paid that actually makes me want to write; it’s always to convey a story, I always feel so restless, and have plots and characters and events all bubbling up inside. The only reason I’d like to make money, isn’t to be famous or well known, or even to be rich, it’s just to be able to facilitate more time to write! They both kind of keep each other going.

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  2. Yes. I agree with every word. My writing sucks when I’m writing for the wrong reasons. It’s easy to get caught up in dreams of making something I love into a money-making career… but it’s never going to happen (unless Hollywood gets involved… and there’s no chance of that). I struggle similarly with other art forms… If it’s for the wrong reasons, it’s usually a failure…

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      1. Well, the point is you enjoy it and you’re good at it. It’s everyone else that has the problem. At least that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. There is pressure to monetize everything. As if something doesn’t make you money, it’s not worth pursuing. And that my friend is complete bullshit. Even if you never publish beyond your blog, you create something wonderful for yourself and your readers to enjoy. That is the point. 🙂

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  3. Only we can tell our dreams to the world. People who do not dream have no dreams to tell and people who cannot or will not write do not have the ability to write them. But those dreams, they must live and prosper and they seek us out and beg us to give them life. And we listen to them, and we do.

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    1. Exactly. This is a little pep talk to myself after being rather discouraged coming out of the weekend… I really need one of those artist sheds in my back yard to escape from all the distractions! Or a cave maybe… 🙂

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      1. De Sade, interesting company? No doubt. Although I’d rather face him in our time than in his. Level the playing field a little. At least from a female’s perspective. And the Balthus painting was done by Pierre Matisse in 1938. I’ll share…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well De Sade was somewhat of a feminist in my opinion. His female characters are always more formed that his villainous makes, plus his Juliette is like the embodiment of female liberation (she can be bad as any male and then some).

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