Daily Archives: July 21, 2010

Seven Writing Sins: Greed

The other day, a nice young man knocked on my door.  He was, of course, a door to door salesman.  Young and energetic with his whole life in front of him and a stuffed messenger bag by his side.

Books, he said.  Do you want to buy some awesome books?

He was a good salesman and a better talker.  Before long we were chatting about my kids, his future dreams and my life as a writer.  Interested in the fact that he was selling a product that I have only dreamed about selling, he asked why I wrote.

Financial gain was absent among my reasons.  I know enough about the industry to know that I’m not going to get rich off my words.  This knowledge didn’t taint my answer, but I’m fully aware that riches are a big reason why some people pursue publication.

They see JK and The King.  They picture their bank accounts with similar figures in the columns as McCormick and Ms.Roberts.  They write to be rich and famous.  They write so people will swoon at the very mention of their names.  They write for other reasons than I do.

Greed is a tough writing sin to tackle, because it is so subjective.  There are many reasons to write and no answer is better or worse than the other.  Even though I am a bit biased and potentially altruistic in my reasons.  This still doesn’t make the rich reason wrong.

I don’t even know if “greed” will produce a poorer quality of work.  But for snobbish reasons, I will argue that it does.

Greed diminishes quality.

This is not to say that making money off a novel is greedy.  Rather I point to the philosophy of putting a pen to paper for the sole purpose of buying a mansion–regardless of the kind of writing that gets published and the impact it has on society.

In the long run, this greed will dimish one’s ability to succeed.  If there is no inherent value in a book, nobody will continue to buy it after the initial hype has worn thin.  Therefore, I argue that there must be some reason beyond financial gain for throwing a book into the arena. 

Sheer entertainment works for me, as does teaching a message.  Inspiration is admirable, IMO.  How-to’s are necessary.  Devotion, motivation, education.  The reasons are limitless.  As long as there is a purpose beyond the almighty dollar.

I write because ultimately I want to make a difference in literacy.  If I can touch just one life through my words and provide a better, stronger future for just one child, then I will have succeeded.  That is enough for me.  To touch a generation is a dream I hardly dare to dream.

How about you?  Why do you write?  What do you hope to gain from penning your stories?  What is your purpose?