Money versus integrity

As I get older, and my goal of being published by the age of 26 fades further and further into the past, I talk about writing less and less. And I think about writing more and more. And I stare out the window more and more. And I write less and less.

One thing that hasn’t changed, as I get older, is my tendency to chatter. I never really seem to shut up. I babble and talk and yammer and blather and so on and so forth.

It’s inevitable that at some point, I will blurt out that I once wanted to write, that I still want to write, that I was supposed to be a writer.

And given what the printed word has become today, it’s inevitable that someone will ask, “What are you going to write? Like some Fifty Shades of Grey-type of book?”

It happened this past week. I shit you not.

To be fair to the person who asked, she doesn’t know me very well, and vice versa. She would have no way of knowing that her question killed a part of me.

But hey, that woman, E.L. James, has a wildly successful franchise. Her name is internationally known. She just published a fourth novel, one that has, according to The Guardian, become the “UK’s fastest-selling adult novel.” She’s had her first book turned into a movie, & if I know Hollywood, they’ll be turning the rest into films as well. Why wouldn’t I want to be her?

Oh right. Artistic integrity. Literary skill. Something like … talent?

(Before anyone calls sour grapes, I’d just like to remind you that I read her trilogy. Every stinking, painful word, I read it. Every Googled synonym. Every ‘inner goddess’, every ‘medulla oblongata’. Every awkward sentence filled with precious, precious adverbs. It was agony.)

I mean, it’s great and all, to dream of writing a story/novella/novel/series, and to dream of actually selling it, and to find out that it’s actually making a bit of money, and to then find out that you’re like, the next J.K. Rowling (or I suppose, E.L. James). But at what point do you sell your soul to the devil — at what point do you just write garbage to make money?

Call me idealistic and naive, but I’d rather be less than internationally renowned if it means that my writing is actually good. Hell, at this point (you know, the point where I barely write and I use this sparsely-written blog as oil for the machine), I’d be happy to finish something — anything! — and send it out. I’d even be happy with a rejection letter, because it’d mean I did something.

Something other than “some Fifty Shades of Grey-type book.”


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