I’m a bit unusual as a writer because I don’t write, primarily, to be read. I make no great effort at marketing. Ultimately, I don’t care if I sell books or not. 😉 I have a good job. I am disciplined enough to do that job and write. So I fully intend to work until retirement and, at the same time, write through all of those years. (And as I write this, retirement is only seven years and eight months away! Whoop! Whoop!)
And… I make a goodly amount money as an IT consultant, so we are comfortable. And it appears that we will continue to be comfortable even after I retire.
In other words:
- I don’t write to entertain readers.
- I don’t write to make readers laugh.
- I don’t write to make readers cry.
- I don’t write to titillate readers.
- I don’t write to offend readers.
- I don’t write to make readers feel good.
- I write… because I’m trying to figure out how the world works.
I’m a “systems” guy. I always have been. I have always been interested in how things fit together. I’ve always wanted to be wise, make good decisions, be able to look back on my life and say, “Yup! Good job!”
And to do that, I’ve always been convinced that it is necessary to carefully observe, think deeply, and derive generalized principles that can then be used to help guide the moments of my life.
I do this with everything–the physical, the emotional, the mental, the spiritual, family relationships, marital relationships, gender relationships, spiritual relationships, work relationships, on and on and on.
Writing really helps me with this. Because even after I work out the general principles concerning a particular area, I still only see them from my own viewpoint. It is true that I have good friends that I share a meal or a walk with regularly. And I do gain a great deal from those discussions. But, honestly, their opinions aren’t all that different from mine.
Happily, I’m a good-enough writer that I have another tool available to me. I can set up a mix of characters with all kinds of viewpoint and personalities, and I can put them into a scenario to allow them to interact with some set of generalized principles that I’m trying to understand better. And then I take a step back and watch what happens! Some of the characters make good decisions. Some of the characters make bad decisions. Some do things that I might do. Others absolutely do not. But with every character, I try to be as true as I can to the character so that I can learn as much as I can.
This does mean that those generalized principles get skewed, once they roll around inside the characters and then come back out. Characters say things I would never say, etc., etc. But that’s what makes it useful. Because I can watch, and then think, “Oh yeah, that’s a bad idea!”
The final piece of all this is that I grew up in the Philippines. And the Filipinos live right down next to the dirt. They are very open about all things biological. So I am more than willing to admit that I might be missing some inhibitions when it comes to some of this stuff!
It can all add up to a mix that can be gritty, and earthy, and often unnerving, depending on the projected age range for the book and the subject matter. But that can be said of life as well, and I’m just trying to understand as best I can!