Guest Blogger: Susan Mary Malone
We all write for one simple reason, no?
To become rich and famous.
You’re either laughing uproariously here (which is an appropriate response), or maybe even stopped reading due to the ludicrous answer (come back!).
But this was the title of my keynote speech at the recent NETWO Writers’ Conference. Because the question is one we all face, fairly constantly. From well-meaning (or not!) family and friends, to that evil little voice within, we seem to have to answer it more often than we’d like.
Writing is such a lonely endeavor, as anyone who pens anything from novels to blogs and everything in between knows. We toil away in that solitary hopefully well-lighted room, alone with our words and stories and imaginary worlds. Writers’ conferences help us to feel not so alone, and more part of a tribe.
The conference goers had a nice chuckle over my rich-and-famous opening. Because they, like you, having spent time writing and blogging and working at building an audience, know how insane that sentiment actually is.
But there’s truth to it, no? We probably went into writing with at least some stars in our eyes about where it would take us. Because we’re not writing in a vacuum, right? We’re creating for others to read, see, experience, etc.
So when you boil it down to the essence, what does Rich and Famous mean for a writer?
We all sobered up soon enough from the original drunken euphoria of where our craft would take us as far as actual dollars. Fairly quickly. So that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What the Rich part means—to virtually all writers I know, in all forms—is that you can buy more time to work on your craft. To write. Hopefully at some point, to quit your day job in order to write more and more and more.
Because that’s what artists do, no? We live to create. And ah, the nirvana of having undisturbed time to do so.
And what does the Fame part mean?
It means you’ve found your audience—no matter the size.
And don’t all writers want this?
One might think that finding that audience would be simple. All writers come into this business with those aforementioned stars in their eyes. “You’ll be the next Hemingway! Everyone will gush over your stunning prose, your compelling characters, the stories that transcend time and space and take readers to the moon!”
Memoirists and short-story writers and bloggers and, well, everyone who writes at least once had that thought! Admit it.
And that’s not a bad thing—we all want someone to actually read what we write. It’s in our bones.
But we’re not everyone’s cup of tea, no? As my mother used to say, “It takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round.”
And all kinds of people love all kinds of different things.
Novelists face this from inception to end. Ah, the rejections gleaned while trying to get an agent to say yes. Finding the right agent can take years to decades. And then, the rejections from publishers until one of them says yes (the good news is, it only takes one yes!).
And then the book comes out and behold and lo—not everyone likes it. How dare them!
But reviews help us to hone in on that audience as well. They’re great for that.
When I Just Came here to Dance was published last fall, it received a whole host of great reviews. Oh, how those warm an author’s heart. To know someone got it, truly got it, appreciated the story and characters and writing, well, that can light an eon of dark nights.
Of course, a few ranting reviews came in as well. One guy couldn’t have hated it more. He wrote a long, scathing treatise that virtually ended with blaming me for the demise of literature in the Western world.
It was so unfailingly hateful and extreme, it gave us all a laugh. You might as well check it out at the link above. LOL.
Which is a good thing when you can find the humor in someone hating you.
But the point of that is, all the reviews helped us (it does take a village) to focus more sharply on the audience for my fiction for next time.
Because of course, that’s the first step in finding the folks who do love my work.
And isn’t that the point? Again, not everybody is going to like or appreciate what we offer up. The world just doesn’t work that way.
But there are a lot of people who will eat it up. And building up your audience—your readership—is one of the main points of the exercise.
So, yep, I write for the same reasons everybody else does—to become Rich and Famous.
Y’all can laugh here!
The Truth of the matter is, however, I do write for the same reason everyone else does. It’s as Maya Angelou said in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Because it has a song.
We, as writers, again no matter what form that takes, have a song to sing. A story to tell. Wisdom or guidance to impart.
That’s why we do what we do, no?
So go write that book. Go send your creative fruits out into the stratosphere. The world needs you.
With all your heart, go sing to the heavens.
About The Writer
Texas native Susan Mary Malone has published two novels, co-authored four nonfiction books, and many short stories. In addition to writing, fifty-plus Malone-edited books have sold to traditional publishers, and one of them was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame film (while another is in production, set to be released in 2016). You can learn more about her at Susan Mary Malone and Malone Editorial