I said it about fifteen years ago (maybe more), on my web page Advice to Aspiring Writers: “Write from the soul, not from some notion about what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal.”
Yesterday, someone quoted those words on a Facebook page called The Writers Circle. I wouldn’t have known about it, except someone emailed me to ask if that was me, and to express agreement. I went to take a look. Yep, that’s my face. (If it’s scrolled off the main page, the entry is here.) There I am, sandwiched between Isaac Asimov and Graham Greene, offering sound bites of alleged wisdom about writing.
Still—I meant what I said back then, and I mean it today.
If someone pushed by asking, “Is that why you wrote a Battlestar Galactica novel?” I might respond this way: First of all, I wrote the BSG novel because I thought it would be fun. Secondly, I would distinguish between guidance offered to a writer struggling to find his or her own voice, and an assignment taken on by a working professional (whether the assignment was just for the bucks, or for fun, or some other reason). Thirdly, if I did take on the BSG book because of what I thought the market wanted, the laugh was on me. It didn’t sell worth beans, despite the large audience for the TV show. (Which led to some interesting speculations among my friends and me about the future of media tie-in books.)
It seems the quote struck a chord, because last time I looked, it had over 3400 “likes” and 777 “shares”! I don’t really “do” Facebook, but I think that’s pretty good.
I read some of the comments, which ranged from “Yes!” to “That’s what I’ve always said,” to “He’s kind of cute,” to “There’s no eternal soul, you idiot.” To which I say, Thank you, thank you, thank you, and yes, I believe there is.
Gotta love the internet.