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?


18 responses to “Seven Writing Sins: Greed

  1. You did not say if you bought books from the salesman.

    Blessings on youj and yours
    John Wilder

  2. I write for a simple reason: It still matters to me. I will not become a millionaire and not many people will read what I write but they are there–out there and if one person was affected by my words I have written I have succeded.

    • Your words are heartfelt and always make me think and consider where I am in life. In that respect, you have already reached your goal.

      And a thanks for that. : )

  3. Good question.

    I write because I love stories. I’ve always been captured by them, and I love creating them. I’d love for one of my stories to capture a reluctant reader and help him/her find pleasure/escape/joy in the written word.

    People who write solely for the money are like teachers who want to teach because they get the summer off. Their hearts will never be in it – so I don’t see how they can ever be successful.

    • Jemi,

      You are a woman/writer after my own heart. That is all I ever want to accomplish with my writing and I can only hope someday to do just that.

      I don’t doubt for a second that you will reach your goal.

  4. I would be lieing if Ididn’t say the idea of having J.K. Rowling’s bank account has never crossed my mind, but I don’t like the thought of being her…everyone knowing who you are, the world waiting with bated breath to hear you read what you’ve written next, and the hollywood appearances to promote the movies based off of your book.

    No, I would say I do not envy her. All the pressure and spotlight not my thing. The thing I love about writing is the idea that I get to play with my own imagination and someone hypothetically will pay me for it. Ontop of that, if I never gain mass media status such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers, then I can also maintain a small sense of obsecurity. People may know who I am, but won’t care enough to try and track down my house, lol.

    It also leaves my career with some place else to go because once you reach the top there is no place else to go but down.

    • Elisa,

      Thanks for this great perspective. With fame and fortune comes a definite loss of privacy. Hopefully we can gracefully accept all of the above when they knock on our doors!

  5. Great topic, something that my writing buddy and I touch on in our conversations about writing.

    I think I write because I have to. When I’m not writing, I feel like something huge is missing. Also, I write because I love stories. I write because I need an outlet for my melodramatic tendencies. I write because life needs more miraculous events. I write because the worst day writing is better than the best day doing something else.

    • Your last line is powerful, Michelle.

      “I write because the worst day writing is better than the best day doing something else.”

      While my DH might disagree with this assessment, I don’t think you could be more right!

  6. I want people to enjoy my stories. That’s it, really. And also, salesman can be deterred by a simple sign that says: Solicitors will be attacked by dogs.

    • That would imply the dog did more than moan at his feet and rub her cheek against his pants leg.

      Maybe next time I should go after door to door salesmen with my teeth bared and hackles raised. I could post a sign that says, “Solicitors will be attacked by crazy writer.”

  7. This is such a hard question to answer. I write because I want to! Why do I want to? I don’t know, LOL! I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember. I love books and reading, so I guess that’s where my writing dreams first started to grow. Books made me see myself and the world and everyone in it in ways I hadn’t considered; they still do that. I wanted to create those types of characters and worlds and emotions, too. I do hope someday my writing is well-received and even beloved, but if it’s not, I would still write. And I know this because I enjoy writing as much as I enjoy reading!

    • Amen. Reading and writing often go hand in hand. The love of the written word is strong indeed and one almost can’t help the ebb and flow that occurs between the two fo them.

  8. I write because I must…my body, mind and spirit scream out for me to write and so I do. Is my writing good, sometimes it is, will I ever be published, I have had articles and stories published, will I ever have a book published…who knows, I hope so but I hope that I am published to encourage people to read. In so many ways really reading is an art that we are losing. I just want people to read and I’d love to have them reading books that I wrote.

    Would I like to make money from my art, well sure I would. I’d like to make enough to pay the bills and have a few fun things in my life like orange slushes from Sonic and cheese dip from my favorite restaurant but I don’t expect to ever be rich from writing, that is not my purpose. I just have to write for me. Everything else is the cherry on the sundae.



  9. I will keep writing because I enjoy it, but it would be nice to be able to sell one, so that I can count it as a part time job and have more time for it. Is that greedy? I guess it is. Greedy for writing time. 🙂

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