“If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” –William Faulkner
I love that quote by Faulkner. It’s how I’ve always felt about my best writing. When the story is in there, it just needs to come out, and the only way is through my fingertips. It’s a wonderful feeling.
What isn’t a wonderful feeling is how I feel about the publishing industry right now. I feel like writers are becoming less of artists because they’re at the mercy of publishers and consumerism. Will a story sell? If a publisher, editor or agent says no, too often the story is never written. Or if a writer sneaks and writes it between his/her agent-approved projects, it becomes one of Stephen King’s “trunk novels.” Filed away in a forgotten place.
When did writers start writing what everybody else WANTS them to write? If that were always the case, there’d be no banned books week (September 27-October 3, just fyi). Can you imagine Huxley pitching A Brave New World? Or Ray Bradbury trying to sell an agent on Fahrenheit 451? What if, at the time these books were being written, the publishing world said no and the writers didn’t write them? What if those books had never been there to inspire thoughts and feelings that aren’t always pleasant, but nonetheless help us to become a better place?
I believe it is the duty of writers and artists to bring things into the world that wouldn’t otherwise be there. If it’s a story that sells a million copies, great. The important thing is to get it on your computer screen and out of your head. Then do your damnedest to send it out into the world. Through the normal channels, through a small publisher, in ebook form or pamphlet or on your own blog, if need be.
“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, onto paper.” –Ray Bradbury
Because that’s your job. That’s why you’re a writer.
In honor of banned books week, I’d like to urge all my fellow writers to join me next week in writing something they want to write. Don’t write it because somebody else thinks it will sell. Write it because it’s in your heart. You may rediscover that joy that writing used to bring you.