1. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Idealistic Writers vs Commercial Writers

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Pythonforger, Jun 16, 2012.

    What do you think about those who "don't care about the money and write for the beauty of writing"(Idealistic Writers) as compared to those who write mostly for money?

    Personally, I think the Idealistic Writers are going to go very hungry for a long time. And they have a tendency to lean towards flowery prose, which means that editors won't like their work, causing them to act like starving artists and put on a dying-martyr look. This will piss off editors even more and it's a vicious cycle.
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the majority of writers doesn't belong to one or the other category, though, but a mix of both. I'd say that every writer has a love of the written word and find it a meaningful way to spend their time, but also dream of making it big and being able to live off their passion, like many artists do. Now, I don't know if you are talking about published writers or just in general, do you have an example of a published writer of the first category?
    Just one reflection I made: If someone is too much in love with their own words and doesn't care about being published one day, he's probably unlikely to develop his writing to the degree where he would get a contract with a publisher in the first case, because he isn't willing to change anything to learn or improve, where the secoond category always strive to make things better and more compelling in order to get his work to stand out in the extreme competition there is today.
     
  3. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I think it's an oversimplification of what is going on.

    IMO you have a few groups of people. You have your published authors that actually make money. You have your writers that are trying to make money writing or are already making money but want to make more and aren't established as a major author in the biz yet. Then you have people (like me) that consider this to be a hobby and are comfortable writing mostly for fun, perhaps with the long term goal of turning it into something serious. And there's also another group of people that think of a cool idea and immediately want to try to write and make money off of their idea despite having no experience at doing this.

    So the Idealistic writer would probably be in the 2nd or third group depending on whether they actually want to be published or want to pursue this as a hobby. I really don't think there are enough people that have that big of an ego when it comes to writing (without the results to back it up) that they think that a publisher criticizing them is the publisher's fault... I'm sure it happens, but just not enough to give them their own name.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wow. That's a pretty sweeping and judgmental generalization. Sounds like an Idealistic Writer kicked your puppy this morning.

    I suppose I'm an Idealistic Writer. I love putting words together to form beautiful sentences, and sentences together to form beautiful paragraphs. Sure, I'd love to be professionally published, but publication is not my main goal in writing.

    As I said, I like to make beautiful sentences, but I've never been accused of writing "flowery prose." When I think of flowery prose, I think of prose that's overstuffed with adjectives, adverbs, and ten-dollar words pulled from a thesaurus. Incompetent prose, like that of H.P. Lovecraft. (I said "incompetent," not "unsuccessful.") Beautiful prose, to me, is focused, functional, streamlined like a modern jet airplane, as opposed to frilly, slow, and useless like a paddlewheel steamboat suspended from a hot-air balloon.

    I don't act like a starving artist and I won't show an editor my dying-martyr look unless he's never seen a dying martyr before and needs to know what one looks like. I have no control over whether or not it will piss him off.

    As for commercial writing, the ornery part of me thinks of it as hackwork - just spewing words onto pages until there are enough vampires and werewolves to keep the kids forking over their allowance money. I'm sure the editors would be happy with that, but too much of that kind of thing destroys my soul. I hate doing it, and I don't like hating writing.
     
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  5. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess I fall into the former category but I definitely don't use "flowery prose".

    Err, no. Not everyone who writes wants to be a published/famous writer. I've had my writing published (mostly articles, but some poems and short stories) but I would probably go mad if I had to do this for a living. It's more of a hobby/on the side for me and that's how I plan to keep it.
     
  6. Show
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    I consider myself a mix of both. lol Don't think either extreme is healthy, productive, or helpful.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    When you refer to idealistic writers, are you saying writers who don't give a damn what anyone else thinks of their notion of beauty in writing?

    If so, you are talking about people who really do write only for themselves. You're right. If they expect to feed themselves though their writing, they have to write in a way that is pleasing to others.

    You can sneer at that impurity and call it commercialism. Or you can accept that writing is a form of communication, which means you have to get that writing read by others if it is to mean anything.

    When does artistic purity become antisocial, self-aggrandizing bull-headedness? I think there;s a pretty broad fuzzy zone that will resist being narrowed down.

    You can't have it both ways. Either you get your message out there or you don't. To get your message out there, you will need to conform to certain standards of writing. Protest all you want, but in the end, it's no more effective than spitting into the wind.
     
  8. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I'm kind of with Cogito here... you can't have it both ways. You can either be artistic and have a viewpoint and hope people find it even if it doesn't mesh with the main stream... or you can be the type that has a viewpoint and style that people like and if you are good you get paid. If all you really want is to make money writing, then you can't also be someone stubborn enough to not change to become a "better" writer.

    There is something to be said about not being motivated by money and truly just wanting to write... and whatever happens happens. But again, I don't think all of those people are the flowery prose type.
     
  9. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    I write for the money, I don't make any. What am I ?
     
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  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Granted, your definitions are the extremes on both ends, but I think it's more than possible to be "idealistic" and "commercial" at the same time. There's no reason a person can't love writing, love the skill and craft of putting together words and phrases, and still write in a way that people will want to pay to read it. Honestly, I find that combination the real challenge (and a welcome challenge) in writing. When I was writing fanfic, I knew that I could get away with schlock - but I chose to work on being the best writer I could, to learn as much as I could, even though I knew I wouldn't/couldn't make a penny from it.
     
  11. Show
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    I agree with shadowwalker. I think we all need a little of both. We should write things that other people would want to read. But we should also not let ourselves be slaves to what we think is going to be the most commercial. I think a lot of things are about proper balance, and this is no exception.
     
  12. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    That's why I am never ashamed of saying I write fanfiction, mostly... I do work hard to make my writing skills better. I see fanfiction writing as a rehearsal where I am able to do poorly at times, before trying the "real" deal.

    Aaand yes, I think it's not about the ends, but about the middles. Balance is the answer, not picking an extreme. It would be way easier to write if we could just choose if we wanted to be idealistic or commercial. We all are both, we just come in different combinations.
     
  13. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    To me there are only good writings and bad writings, and I aspire to be a good writer. BTW, writers who write for themselves (not sure I want to call them Idealistic Writers) usually have a back-up career and they are not always hungry. Writers who don't care about communicating with the readers and still don't have a second career are not idealistic, they are plain foolish.
     
  14. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    ...... Do you even know how the industry of Writing works and how some Writers have preferences? Not all Writers want to be published.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I should point out once again that Idealistic Writers (this one, anyway) DO want to be published! The fact that we want to write beautiful prose does not mean we do not want to communicate with readers. It's just that we choose different models. Instead of Stephanie Meyer and Tom Clancy and Dan Brown, we follow people like Vladimir Nabokov, William Gass, Anthony Burgess, John Updike (excellent prose but I don't like his subjects), Joan Didion, etc. Even James Joyce. All of the latter list are published, popular (in some circles), and prize-winning. And they all pay careful attention to their styles - their voices on the page, if you will. They're not hacks chasing the number 1 spot on the bestseller lists or multi-million dollar advances. They're just hardworking artists trying to write as well as they can so they can be proud of their day's work.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Show me a writer who doesn't want anyone else to read his or her writing, and I'll show you either someone writing a private diary, or a liar.

    There are writers who would be happy if only a few people read their writing, and it isn't NECESSARILY that they don't think they could ever make the grade to be published. But I personally believe most of those who don't want to be published just don't want to put in the effort required, or just don't think they could ever write well enough, to get published. When I started out, that was me, until I was honest enough with myself to admit that I DO want to be published.
     
  17. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I don't see the writing style as the factor for the failure to communicate with the readers. True, certain writing styles may limit the number of readers but that doesn't mean they have failed to communicate. In my book Vladimir Nobokov cannot be remotely associated with failure to communicate with readers, and on the other hand I don't see how Dan Brown has communicated anything to the readers except perhaps how to exploit controversy for marketing. I see senseless flowery writing as one form of bad writing, and if they are what the OP calls idealistic writers they better have another job to feed them.

    I think this is true. I wrote stories and never for once thought of publishing anything, until of course somebody read the stories and thought they were good.
     
  18. Rapscallion
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    Rapscallion Active Member

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    The main purpose of writing is to be read. If you get to the stage where you can earn a living from it, it's a byproduct of proficiency. Good marketing strategies can turn a mediocre writer, pro.
     
  19. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hello!

    Admittedly, it wasn't until my writing was published that I realised it wasn't what I wanted. It doesn't make me happy or proud to see to see my writing in print. The copies I own sit at the back of my cupboard behind a folded pile of autumn-winter clothing.
     
  20. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I felt the same way about my writing until I was... well, 35. Then I read a certain book which made me take up writing again after years because This time I wanted to write something that could be read by others. Now, having my stories read (and hopefully appreciated) by others is actually what drives me to write. I want to write stories of a kind that I miss in bookstores. I'm sure there are people feeling the same way I do about this, so that is where my motivation comes from. Sometimes things change.
     
  21. Dryriver
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    Dryriver Senior Member

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    If you ask me, an idealistic writer distinguishes himselft by the following:

    - Doesn't write genre books (Vampire Romance, Zombie Attack survival et cetera)
    - Writes a fresh, original story each time
    - Creates memorable characters that are aren't clicheed
    - Creates memorable situations/plot progression that aren't clicheed
    - Creates strong dialogue that is fresh, and also not clicheed
    - Pays extra attention to writing good prose (maybe with a LOT of editing/rewriting)
    - Tries to make each work a "Masterpiece" capable of becoming a "Classic"


    A "Commercial Writer" on the other hand is, to me at least, an uninspired hack who writes mainly for money, doesn't care much about his prose quality, doesn't care about creating a "literary classic", et cetera et cetera.


    I prefer to read "Idealistic Writers" over "Commercial Writers", because CWs often don't sattisfy (you read a 560 page paperback, and then forget all about it 2 days later)
     
  22. Program
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    I agree with your definition of Idealistic Writer, but I think the money part can be left out. I think an Idealistic Writer just writes for the beauty of writing. On the other hand, the people who write for money - you could call them Commercial Writers - write things that the majority of people (mostly people who don't know much about writing) want to read, to make money.

    However, I disagree that Idealisitc Writers mainly go towards flowery prose. I don't think that "writing for the beauty of writing" is just writing flowery stuff. I think that any qualified editor, who knows how to read properly (which is more than just know the words and syntax), will love the writing of a very skilled Idealistic Writer.
     
  23. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I kept trying to write a response that wasn't outlandish, but all I can really say is "rubbish". The first statement is the old genre/literary debate, which is ridiculous. The next to the last statement ("Masterpiece") is someone who will probably never finish "perfecting" their work; no author knows if they've written a 'masterpiece' until the public has its say. The last statement just describes a poor writer who probably won't make much money anyway. The rest of it describes a good writer, whether they write for money or just for themselves.
     
  24. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I don't think idealism comes into things all that much really, people will enjoy writing what they enjoy reading and obviously for many folks that just happens to be genre/commercial fiction.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if you're reading those idealistic writers, doesn't that mean that they got published? So doesn't that mean that they do have a foot in the commercial world?

    I also reject the idea that ignoring and despising quality will make a writer a commercial success. But that's a separate issue.

    ChickenFreak
     

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