Monday, September 6, 2010

Writing for Money

Question and Answer with Christopher Hitchens in the New York Time Magazine:

Did you write the book for money? 
Of course, I do everything for money. Dr. Johnson is correct when he says that only a fool writes for anything but money. It would be useful to keep a diary, but I don’t like writing unpaid. I don’t like writing checks without getting paid.

I'm reading Hitchen's memoir, Hitch-22 and found the above quote about why he wrote the book.  Now, if writing for money means I get to hang out and play word games with Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, then definitely, I need to make sure that I write for money.  

For an author, money can be a motivating force to improve your craft.  In our society is also the economic indicator of how many people the writing reaches.  More money = bigger audience.  Hitchens the journalist understands this well.

Yet, I personally like David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen's reason for writing fiction, because I think they are correct. 

[Fiction is the] ‘neutral middle ground on which to make a deep connection with another human being’: this, we decided, was what fiction was for. ‘A way out of loneliness’ was the formulation we agreed to agree on.

Writing is about creating a connection with other people.  No writer I've ever met is content with their words being stuffed in a drawer or a hard drive (although they often end up there).   Pleas to artistic desire or writing compulsion are nothing more than screams for connection.  No artists writes a book so no one else can read it.  

No audience, no art.  

No audience and it is artistic masturbation, while possibly pleasurable, much more productive and fun if shared.   So in an indirect way Hitchens is correct, money means more connection and that is what writing is all about.

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