I went to the library that I used to go to when I was a kid the other day. I’m not one to be married to the past, by any means, but it had certainly changed. It’s not a city library anymore, but county, so the dusty, smelly old books that used to crowd the shelves are replaced with sleek latest editions, and only enough of those to fill half the shelves. You can request any book you want on the computer. I expected as much, just from the rise of the ebook, but still. Gone are the days of staggering out with every book that interested me (which was all of them), precariously balancing a stack, while trying to read one of them, all the while being grateful for automatic doors, which likely saved many concussions for my 10-year-old self.
I lived at that library growing up. The librarians were amazing, and always had wonderful suggestions for me. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories that gave people the kind of enjoyment I get from reading them.
That, right there, is the best piece of writing advice I ever received. Know why you write.
It’s not the same for everyone. Maybe you have an agenda, or a message. Maybe you want fame and glory and awards (more on that in a second). Maybe it’s a hobby. The list is long and varied.
A funny thing happens, as many of you know, when you go from one day I will have a book out to I am a published author, or somewhere in the middle, anyway. In fact, it happens earlier and earlier, thanks to the internet and social media. Things crowd out why you write. Twitter activism- if you follow a bunch of writers on Twitter, you are basically walking into a high school of very vocal, very opinionated people. Suddenly, you care about awards. Not just awards, but the process, the categories, and goddammit I want one.
Why do you write?
With the recent Hugo… cluster, and every goddamn controversy in genre before that (do crime authors deal with this shit?), for as much as I am interested in those things, and do care about them- guess what? It’s not why I write. I don’t need any hardware to validate my writing, me as a person, and certainly not any of my views (*cough puppies cough*). It doesn’t do me or my writing any good to dwell on them.
What’s my point in all this? Twofold, really. I never looked for any stamp on any of those books I read- Hugo Award Winner, Nebula Award Winner– and if they had some award or not, it wouldn’t have increased or decreased my enjoyment of them. So, as a writer, I have reached a point where I genuinely don’t care. Perhaps easy to say, since no one has, ya know, offered me a Hugo, but I can say I don’t particularly want someone to. What I want, as a writer, is people to read my stuff, hopefully enjoy it, and then hopefully tell someone to do the same. If things go really well, I will get to make a living off that.
As a reader, I care even less. If that’s the validation some people need, fine, whatever, that’s their business. But if your writing is a platform for your idiotic, selfish and bigoted worldviews, and awards and the process around them serves as means to draw attention to same, you can bet your sweet ass I will not be reading your book.