I'm going a little crazy sitting around the house right now. I realized this yesterday when it seemed like a good idea to ask my cats what I should write about today. Given their inability to speak, I attempted to allow them to give me their response by typing on the keyboard.
Okay, so I left my laptop open, and my little girl cat stood on the keys while I had Blogger up. This is her contribution to the Archives today:
I took a bit of a break from not doing other things this weekend to read one of Douglas Adams' often lesser-known books, which is actually the second and final book in a series, called THE LONG DARK TEA-TIME OF THE SOUL. If you're an Adams fan and haven't read this one, it and its predecessor, DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY, are AWESOME (which is not, as it turns out, the title of another Douglas Adams book. It's just capitalized for emphasis). They are Adams at his best-- better, even, I would daresay, than the HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY series. (You can find the Dirk Gently books here at Amazon.com).
In THE LONG DARK TEA-TIME OF THE SOUL, Adams goes on a bit of a rant about a fictional author who has essentially sold his soul to sell millions of copies of his books. One of the characters makes a quip that she doesn't understand why she still reads his books, when it's clear that "his editor doesn't anymore."
Hilarity (and ring of truth) aside, this struck a chord with me. The novel I'm querying right now is most easily described as commercial fiction, but the definition of commercial fiction is that, well, it's commercial. It's meant to sell, to appeal to the masses. Now, I'm not saying I'll ever have an internationally-bestselling author's problems, but I would be lying if I didn't say that it crosses my mind what people might want to read when I write.
I try not to let it get to me. But every now and then a twinge of "well this is really popular right now" does cross my mind. I don't want to be a supposed sell-out, but I do want to be relevant.
Writing isn't about any potential money for me. It's more about the afore-mentioned relevancy, if I'm honest: seeing my book on bookstore shelves, and being able to say that I am an author. So my drive to write with mass appeal comes only from upping my odds of that happening. Agents and editors are people too, after all. Commercial appeal starts with them.
I'm struggling with this as I find myself with tons of the also-afore-mentioned free time. A shiny new idea has again reared its head, and I'm writing it just to get it out of my head while I query my other novel and let a third simmer before diving into edits. The shiny new idea has the potential to be very commercial, so we'll see which road I take.
So for today's question, tell me: when you write, do you write for yourself or loved ones, or do you write for what you think might sell?