When this quote and Goodreads anecdote hit my inbox on Friday, April 1, a post was instantly born:
What are men to rocks and mountains? – Jane Austen
April 1, 1816: The Prince Regent enjoyed Jane Austen’s novels, but he requested that she try her hand at a historical romance with less satirical and humorous elements. Austen was not amused. On this day, she wrote to the Prince Regent, “I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life.”
After my initial reaction of “Yeah, Jane!” I immediately thought: I could never write for the market either. I’m not knocking writers who do practice their hand at writing for the market, I’m just not one of them. I can’t be one of them.
Sure, throughout school I excelled at producing exactly what I was asked to produce with minimal creative input from myself aside from my points of argument. I’m not in school anymore, and I don’t take joy in writing what I don’t want to write. Creation is torturous enough.
Yes, I do eventually want to make money with my writing, but I’m not willing to pander to the supply and demand model that some authors thrive in. I’m too much of an Artiste, I guess. I want to write what I want to write and see that get me where I want to go. Yep, I’m hoping lightning strikes and my writing and the market collide right under that bolt.
I’m betting my way will not have the money rolling in any time soon. And that’s ok with me. I do have to nod my head at the writers I know who study the market, write pieces to fill it, and excel at making a living at it. I applaud them because the thought fills me with panic. The word “market” alone makes me want to run for the hills.
Everyone’s niche is different. I’m going to stick with Austen’s club and marvel at those who don’t. My days of writing what others want me to write, or think I should write, are behind me.
So, if you’re a reader and the next time you finish the latest popular book, don’t tell the writer(s) in your life that they should write the next _____ blockbuster. We’re under enough pressure. And if you’re a writer, keep on writing!