the wrong reason

Let me ask you a question. It’s not a question I expect you to answer in the comments. It’s not one that requires a response of any kind from you, save an internal response. It’s a question for you to think about, to weigh and consider. It’s one you should have an answer to, for your own peace of mind if nothing else. And it’s simple, really.

Why do you write?

There are, in my estimation, a lot of valid answers to that question. You may write because you enjoy it, because it fulfills you or because you have a passion for storytelling. Perhaps you write because it’s therapeutic for you, or because there are so many books you’ve enjoyed that you wish to give something back to the world in exchange for all the wonderful things you’ve read. These are all good reasons, and there are plenty more that I would consider noble, pure and worthy.

But there’s one reason that I despise: for the money.

Granted, like me you probably hope to make a living some day from your writing. I’m not suggesting that you ditch that hope, or that food and shelter are things that really shouldn’t concern you as an artist. Rather, I’m just saying that if your primary reason for writing (regardless of what you write) is monetary, well, hell. Find another job.

That’s right. I said no matter what you write. I don’t care if you write proposals for grants to study the effects of underwater submersion on varying weaves of demin. If you don’t enjoy it, if it doesn’t satisfy you, if you don’t feel some measure of passion for it, then ditch it. Either write about something else that does bring you joy, or find another form of expression, perhaps another art, you can sink your teeth into.

Just don’t do this…this word-game, this prose thing, for a cash out.

Do it because there is something about it you love.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

– Stephen King, On Writing


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

2 Responses to the wrong reason

  1. smilescavenger says:

    I write because my imagination is stubbornly uncontainable.

    But I did recently catch myself writing a story and saying, “No I can’t do that, it doesn’t appeal to the general populace enough…” Luckily, I caught myself before making a marketing-based decision about art. But it’s amazing how subtle and convincing that mindset can be.


    • dex says:

      Yep, it can be hard to catch your mind drifting in that direction. I’m working on some stories for a mash-up book (half fiction, half nonfiction) and I’ve had to stop myself from ‘taming’ the horror in the stories so that it won’t push the ‘general population’ away from the book. I totally understand where you’re coming from.


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