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1 Comment | Jan 08, 2015

What Do Writers Want?

writing-2The late, absurdly talented essayist David Foster Wallace, in an interview with Charlie Rose, once noted the painful dichotomy of being a writer; how on the one hand you’re this recluse who sits in an office or garret for days at a time, eschewing all human contact, striving to complete a piece of work; but on the other hand you repeatedly put your writing out there into the public sphere for human consumption and evaluation. It’s a poignant observation, and one that gets to the heart of what writers want.

In fairness, I can, of course, only comment on what this particular writer wants, though in so doing, I am prepared to also make a bold leap and assert that it’s what every writer wants; put quite simply—readers. I cannot believe for a moment that there is a writer out there content to jot down his innermost thoughts and beliefs—whether as informally as a humble blog post, or as structured and demanding a format as a novel—with the expectation of then locking it away in a drawer someplace, never to see the light of day. We want—I want—others to see it.

And yes, we also aspire—most of us anyway—to gain a reputation. Whatever our chosen genre or style, we all look with a measure of longing at Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Philip Roth, and say, there but for the twists and turns of fate, go I. We all dream of big contracts, worldwide book tours, Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. But, in the end, it’s not really about fame, or awards, or money. It’s about that other human being sitting with your book in their lap, debating with their friend about what you really meant by this or that passage.

I am as yet far enough down on the writing food chain that I haven’t encountered a complete stranger at an airport or restaurant carrying a copy of one of my books. But I expect that when that day comes, I will feel something I’ve never yet felt. There may even come a day in a distant future when I’m sitting in a restaurant and someone with a book in their hand will walk uncertainly up to me and say, “Aren’t you…”

1 Comment

Mom 7:16 pm - 8th January:

Very good explanation of what you as a writer expect from your endeavors. I think one of your strong points in becoming a good writer is to start each day off with a puff pastry, a diet coke, and a menagerie of cats and dogs waiting for a crumb!! I have enjoyed all of your writings and am currently deeply embroiled in Sistina. Good luck with your future endeavors. I am very proud to tell people my son is an author!!!

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