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  1. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    What is the point of writing and publishing fiction?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by thetyper, Jun 23, 2012.

    Hi All

    I was really interested in the debate about self-publishing that we had, and some of the points of view in that thread got me thinking about the broader issue of what, exactly, is the point of writing and then publishing fiction? There appear to be a lot of answers - entertainment, generating some income, prestige, acknowledgement of effort, expression of things important to you, etc. But what is it that drives you to write fiction? Are you happy simply writing it, or must it be published for you to feel satisfied? If the latter would you be content with publishing it yourself or do you see it as pointless unless you are endorsed by a publishing house, and if so, what gives the commissioning editor the power to decree your work worthy?

    For my part, I write fiction because I like having unanticipated thoughts and ideas, which I find happens when I start writing scenes - they sort of write themselves. I admit that I don't care if my work entertains or not and I am not seeking the approval of anyone else when I write. As for publishing, I see no distinction between a professional publisher and self-publishing and don't see how it has any bearing on the work's final content, although I see how it might affect its popularity or distribution and so on.

    Anyone brave enough to admit they write just for money? Or more lofty motives? Anyone here self-published who feels disappointed they didn't have success or didn't bother with a professional publisher? Anyone here happy to write and never let anyone see it, and happy not even to attempt to publish it?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    I write fiction because all of these story ideas pop into my head. Usually it's just one sentence, but occasionally my brain just holds onto that sentence and starts building around it until a full story is born.

    I don't write to be published, or for money, or fame, or any kind of recognition really. I write to prove to myself that I can do it and that I can produce a coherent piece of writing. As of now I'm not confident enough to let anyone look at my writing and if it stays that way forever I'm okay with that; as i said I write for me. If someday I feel comfortable showing sOmeone my writing, my one hope is that they get as much enjoyment out of reading it as I have writing.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    WARNING: If the arguments over self-publishing vs traditional publishing are continued in this thread, IT WILL BE CLOSED.
     
  4. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    This is similar to me I think. It's more about personal reward than recognition by anyone else, but I appreciate the latter would be harder to admit. You sound like you have written millions of words by the way... I have visions of a basement stacked with unpublished classics...?
     
  5. Rob Pickard
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    Rob Pickard Member

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    I love immersing myself in another world, be it through gaming, watching movies or reading books. Writing my own fiction just feels like a natural extension of that, I often find myself sitting down to write something and before I know it it's 1am and I have to be up in 6 hours -.-

    I guess I must have quite a strong imagination because like I said, it's all about the immersion, actually feeling the emotions of the characters I'm writing about and letting their situation completely overcome me. Hmm, maybe that sounds a bit weird, but there you go :)
     
  6. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    Interesting that you write this because I was just thinking about how writing reminds me of those computer games like the Sims. It doesn't sound weird to me, because often my characters write themselves. Sometimes I will end up with a different character without any conscious effort to make it so. It evolves organically as part of some strange process... Stephen King has written about this in On Writing and it struck a chord with me. I'm not a big fan of planning either. To me the whole point of fiction is, I think, to create a distraction for me and exercise some kind of creativity - or is it power? - in an alternative (real) world. I'm not at the publication stage yet and remain reluctant to publish overall.

    I don't need to publish financially, or for reasons of the ego (I already have published non-fiction lurking in unsuspecting libraries ha ha), and I question why I would take my completed story and make it public. I'm asking myself why I want/need to do that. Is there a subconscious desire to seek approval? I hope not, but the only way I can prove this is by leaving the finished manuscript in the drawer, and yet I'm starting to feel something as yet indiscernible compelling me to publish it, although as I say elsewhere I would be quite content with self-publishing as it doesn't alter what it's in the story, does it? Perhaps it's just because I have proved myself in non-fiction and now think I'll have a go at fiction? All I know is I enjoy entering these worlds in the evening when I'm tired and expanding them.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I consider fiction and other forms of art to be one of the necessities of life, like food and clothing and shelter. Sure, you can live without fiction, but technically you can live without clothing, and it's still so essential to one's well-being that it's seen as a necessity. I'd argue the same for art, including fiction.

    People like to provide the necessities of life, and provide them to a level beyond necessity. They like to serve a glorious dish of food and watch the blissful expressions of the eaters. They like to tell a joke and watch people laugh, play an instrument and watch them dance. They like to feed other people's brains, senses, thoughts, emotions, and be part of that shared experience, and, yes, receive appreciation and regard for what they've done.

    I grew up in an isolated, fairly dysfunctional family, and was an isolated child in a fairly dysfunctional school. So I rarely experienced the shared forms of art - music, dancing, theater, even movies. But written fiction isn't an experience that you need to share with other participants. You're alone, sharing thoughts only with a faraway, often long-ago, author.

    I'd like to be part of the other side of that interaction, by writing fiction and getting it published. It's not about money, and it's not about fame, but it is certainly about readers. I want to feed them a book and make them... well, not necessarily happy - that depends on the book - but I want them to be glad they read it.
     
  8. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    A nice post - thanks Chicken, especially the last bit. That really answers the point I made which seems to have been "disappeared" like a troublesome agent in the Stockholm night - about subjective reasons for publishing. I mean to say is it about what one feels, or what one wants others to feel, and your post eloquently describes your process on that issue. I like your point about sharing thoughts with the author as well.

    On a broader note it seems the modding is very heavy-handed round here - I write mainly on British forums where there is much more freedom of expression tolerated - Cogito - are you saying that the subject of self-publishing is banned on writingforums.org? If you are (and your actions indicate this) then fair enough and I won't raise it here again because there are other forums where I can talk freely about that subject. I want to be clear because I'm enjoying posting here and I don't want to transgress and as I have said self-publishing might become quite important to me in the future so if we're banned from talking about it I'll know to take the debate elsewhere. Thanks.
     
  9. struggler
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    I write because all my life its really the only thing I've ever excelled at more then others, and to write something worth reading, something people would pay for, would mean the world to me.
     
  10. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    I write because i cannot live without it. It's like a compulsion otherwise I have so many ideas just popping up in my head that i need to get out in some way... it's hard to explian.
     
  11. YugiohPro01
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    YugiohPro01 Member

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    This can be answered in many ways, I know many will say that they don't write for money(and truly when someone writes just for wealth it is illogical because one would just get another vocation if it was only for the pursuit of wealth) but no one can say that they would mind gaining some income from their writing. I think most of us just write because we have a deep need to satisfy our growing imagination, and quite frankly publishing it and giving the opportunity for others to read and see our imagination is just a plus, not the sole reason.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I write because I feel the need to. When i was younger I never wanted anyone to read what I wrote but now I would really like to share my stories and entertain people. To give them the same feeling I have when I read a book I like. Also to share my view of the world to others.

    Edit:
    For me it is also, and has always been, a way to escape reality for a while and "be someone else", something I had a strong need for when I was a teen. Writing was distraction, it was an escape, it was dreaming. I have always been a daydreamer and it felt natural to write those dreams down on paper.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I write because I have stories inside that I want to share. I do so hoping that others will also derive some enjoyment from, otherwise I would be satisfied just playing them out in my own head. It would certainly be easier than molding them into sentences, paragraphs and scenes to communicate those visions to others.

    If I will go to that trouble, I want those stories to be available to the widest possible audience. I don't expect everyone to experience the same depth of feeling as I do in shaping them, but if some percentage of those who read them experience a measure of those feelings, I will be delighted.
     
  14. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    One of the big epiphanies I have had since starting to write fiction is how little the end product resembles what I had imagined it would be and I find this infuriating. My non-fiction stuff is planned out and follows a coherent argument and end pretty much where I knew it would, but my fiction never does this. For a long time I interpreted this as having failed and considered the stories as having "gone wrong" and it wasn't until I read an interview with Stephen King in which he said that one of his books (can't remember which one) actually turned out the way he had imagined and that was unusual. Then the penny dropped that fiction really does meander, but for a long time this was problematic for me.
     
  15. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Interesting topic. I've been writing for years but I haven't be thinking about being published for years. Only recently did I write a complete novel and what came with the finished product was thoughts of getting it published. As I am just now learning, there is a whole lot more thought that has to go into crafting a novel for publication than just writing a novel for fun. So I am pretty much having to go back and completely tear apart my previous manuscript and start fresh. My original story was entertaining to an extend, but it was full of unbelieveable senarios. A modern day mental institution cant do that, a disorder doesn't exist like I describe, no way could employees of a mental institution get away with that, magazine writers don't have that luxury...etc. So if you are writing for entertainment without the care of publication, then so be it. Write away and self-publish a few copies if you want to copyright your work, get an ISBN#, say you were published and have a tangable print to read from...but when you decide you want to become a serious writer and want to get your story out to the masses, then that decision should be made before the pen touches the pad because it requires a lot more prep-work and research just trying to figure out what publishing houses are looking for these days and printing. Who are you writing the novel? If you want so-and-so to publish your novel, research the kind of stories they publish. Don't sent a crime novel to a romance house. I think I said enough and you can see what I'm getting at. I've had fun writing and have proven that I can write a story from cover to cover...now the question is can I write something publish worthy. That's what I'm currently working on and hoping for.
     
  16. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    Some good questions raised here! Big problems I have include endless pointless characters that have to be deleted, and this causes so much trouble. Also, maintaining a plot thread all the way through - another massive weak point of mine. I try so hard to keep everything relevant but it is a challenge. I have never second-guessed what publishers want as I cannot imagine myself sending them my work, and just write to entertain myself - I guess to see if I can do it. I might publish it myself if I'm convinced it has any merit. I'm starting to question if why I write is really as virtuous as I have said though...
     
  17. Estrade
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    This is by Elizabeth Gilbert in the weekend Guardian:
    And that was just a cookbook!

    So I suppose this is the kind of thing I'm writing for. Some vague hope that something like this would happen, long after I have ceased to care. Sort of illogical, really. And yet.
     
  18. LuminousTyto
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    LuminousTyto Senior Member

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    I want to write for several reasons. One of which is to entertain others. I also have a yearning for good stories of my own taste, which I can't seem to find a whole lot of.
     
  19. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    My 16 month old pounded on the keyboard, sorry....haven't had time formulate a reply.
     
  20. TheTrain
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    Well, I'll raise my hand to say that not only do I enjoy writing period, but also seek feedback from readers. On top of that, I hope that I can make a living with it, since it is something I enjoy tremendously, but until not too long ago I didn't have the time or any good ideas for a book. Thankfully that's all changed; now I just hope my planned novel becomes a success so I can continue writing.

    So yeah, I do want to make money at it and become a success; I'm brave enough to admit that, but my reason is so that I can do what I love.
     
  21. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I write because I have things to say, and wrapping them up in an entertaining story, or a good song, strikes me as a good way to garner an audience.

    And then, sometimes I simply want to entertain, nothing more nor less, and choose writing to do so.
     
  22. Brinda
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    Brinda New Member

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    I write because I love it, and it's one of the few things in life that I would consider myself good at--not that there isn't always room for improvement, but I can see myself improving, and I think that's the most important thing. I want to be published by an agency. I feel like they know the market the best, and even if my book is good enough to be published but I keep recieving rejections, I feel like I would wait until I either found a publisher that would take me on, or until the market came around to my type of writing. I know someone who reviews new books, and she says that it's such a shame when people self-publish a really good book because they won't get the readers they deserve (9 times out of 10).

    As for why I want to be published instead of just writing for the fun of it, I've always wanted to help people. I know that might sound funny because I write fiction and not self-help books, but it's true. Growing up, I had a lot of issues from social anxiety to depression, and whereas I'm doing better now, sometimes all I had in those dark times was a good book in my hands. The days where I couldn't bring myself to leave the house, I could open a book and not only not feel alone, but go on grand adventures too. Reading made me want to have adventures in real life, and so I would leave the house. I wouldn't be where I am today without good books, and I want to hopefully give that to someone else. Even if someone just reads my books and enjoys them, I think I would be extremely gratified. Even just a smile on a rainy day can be of great importance.
     
  23. lallylello
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    lallylello Member

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    I waste my time writing because I enjoy it and I'd rather waste my time writing than waste my time doing housework or working harder or anything else. I'm not going to assume I'm going to be published because that would be daft, but I am going to work towards that goal because maybe one day I'll be able to spend all day every day writing (and employ someone else to do the housework).
    Excellent question.
    Am off to dream about being rich (and ignore the state my house is in) :)
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    New Jersey?
     
  25. lallylello
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    lallylello Member

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    lol - you did a funny! :D
    (took me a little while, though, as we don't have states in Sunny England, we have counties)
    I should probably change my location to "underwater" too, as we drowning in flash floods over here :( Still, maybe if I keep it as it is, God will listen and turn the rain off.
     
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