Monday, November 22, 2010

Why a Writer?

I’m a writer.  At least, I want to be.

Did I always want to be a writer?  I’m not sure.  I remember watching Captain Caveman as a kid and seeing a couple of episodes that still hold up as crime plots in my grown up mind.  Even then, I thought it would be cool to steal, er, pay tribute through homage to, those plot ideas.  I was seven or so.  I remember watching Scooby Doo and working out ideas for the treasure where it was something totally unexpected.  Rather than a stash of Civil War gold, or a fortune in gems, why not some odd collectible item that would be cast aside by nearly anyone that found it?

I’m drifting a bit.

I look back to my life then, and I wanted to make stories.  I wanted to make them my way with characters doing what I wanted them to do.  But why?

Money?  At one time, maybe.  Then I looked into it.  I don’t think anyone can realistically get into writing to get rich.  Oh, it’s certainly possible to get rich doing it, but I don’t think that was the primary reason the big names started doing it.  For every Twain, Hemingway, or King, there are tens of thousands of Bill the Scribes, lost forever to the obscurity of the slush piles and card catalogs.

Fame?  Probably not.  Having a name that people recognize isn’t always a mark of success, and being successful does not always bring lasting fame.  Above, I named three authors by last name only, but nearly everyone would know who I meant.  What about the names Fleming, Queen, and Stout?

Those would be Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, one of the most famous characters ever created.

Ellery Queen, the pen name for a pair of cousins that are credited with creating the “American Detective” in fiction.  Ellery Queen was the best selling mystery author for decades, yet few people outside the genre have ever heard the name.  The two most populated counties in Utah have libraries that contain a total of seven Queen books.  I’ve never seen one for sale in a book store.

Rex Stout created Nero Wolfe.  Arguably one of the most memorable characters in detective fiction, subject of television and radio programs on multiple occasions, and is still revered by the loyal members of the “Wolfe Pack”, a group of fans that sponsor an annual novella contest.

All three of these men were wildly successful, and when a person hears their full name, bells ring.  But, their last names alone are not often recognized among the general public.  Fame is fleeting.

The more I think about why I want to be a writer I think the reason must be respect.  Not respect as an artist.  I don’t consider myself to be one at this point.  The kind of respect I’m thinking of is where people that have no clue who I am, and don’t care the slightest bit about my feelings, look at something that came from my imagination and say.  “Well, this doesn’t suck.”

I want people to tell me the things that pop into my head from time to time are as interesting to them as they are to me.

In the posts that follow this one, over the span of months, and possibly years, I plan to put down thoughts about writing in general, my struggles with it, and hopefully fairly soon, my first success at it.

1 comment:

  1. In the end, even your definition of success is extremely relative. Do we spend our life writing, catering to a single audience, and attempting to find what strikes them as excellence, or do we write, flitting from audience to audience until we find the right readers?

    Are the readers important? Or do we write for ourselves? For the sheer delight of creation?