A Job I Didn’t Apply For…

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I never actually wanted to be a writer. I mean, I never chose for this to be something that would take up so much of my time and I certainly never thought that I would start a publishing company and put other people’s work out into the market. It was the furthest thing from the sort of life that I wanted to lead; I never even thought that I would ever learn to type. I often wonder how many people end up doing what they started out looking for, how many found what it is that they sought. I’m sure that the majority don’t enjoy their jobs and that they have some hidden (or not so hidden) dream that they indulge in when they are not at their mundane work. Writing was never my dream. My dreams were of things that were much more physical, much more adventurous. That’s why I always knew that I would be successful at writing…

Because I simply looked at it as a way to make money. I felt the same way about writing as I would have felt about getting a large homework assignment over summer vacation. It was remarkably similar in the sense that I was the type that would do other people’s homework for them when I was in school, and I knew that I could do a better job at it than they could. But I never looked forward to it. It was a chore. I mean, I was aware that I may have some small talent for it, or rather I was aware that many people might have more trouble pulling it off than I would. I was capable of scrawling something legible onto a pad. So, I set out to write my first novel with a sense of impending dread but also with a feeling of certainty. I knew I could complete it. I was actually surprised that it wasn’t a better book once it was finished, and I had a greater respect for those who had created such wonderful works before me. From that point on, I was hooked.

There is a substantial investment in skill and habit that develops in the writing process; you create this mental and physical space that you work in. Once this space is developed, you begin to customize it and to fill it with the tools that you require to do a better and neater and more complete job. It can be tremendously difficult to pull yourself away from that space and once you do, it can be just as difficult to find your way back into it. Some writers, I’m sure, never leave it for very long (if they ever leave it at all). I left it all the time. I considered myself a semi-professional musician and looked at that as my true passion; I felt that writing was nothing more than this mountain of paperwork that was standing in the way of my musical career, this task that I found annoying but was at least keeping me from being forced back to a construction site or a rifle platoon as my only means of making a living. So, just like cleaning a bathroom or taking out the garbage, it was something that had to be done. On top of all of that, I was terrified that I would put this massive amount of time into it and end up with nothing more than embarrassment to show for it. It was both boring drudgery and risky!

I kept at it, even though I had no feedback from friends or family to make me feel that I was creating good prose. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the awareness that, not only could I make a lot of money if a book took off but I could continue to earn this money for years into the future! That intrigued me. I wanted to have this check sent to me for years after I finished working on something. I wanted to insure that my retirement would be a lazy one. These may not be the most noble reasons to become a writer, but I assure you they’re the most honest.

I do feel that I have more artistic integrity when it comes to composing music and I don’t feel that I ever wrote music simply to make a large amount of money. I was never interested in mainstream music and I believe that I’ve always attempted to create something meaningful (for whatever that’s worth) in every piece of music I’ve written. Writing prose was always done with one eye on the page and another on the market. What I mean is, I think that I’ve always written music for myself first and for the crowd later whereas I have always written fiction for the reader. I wanted to write books that would make the reader curious as to what would happen next, to care about the characters, but I don’t think that I’ve ever tried to create great art when I’ve written down stories. In spite of all that, I began to care about the characters and I began to want them to be wrapped in great prose. I wanted their story to be told in the best possible light, so that people would understand how they felt and to understand how I felt about their situations. Without realizing it, I had become concerned with the artistry of prose. I was angry and frustrated by that because I felt that being deeply involved with the work had hampered my musical career. I had been so glad that I had a sense of detachment from my writing and now that was gone! I was afraid that If I cared deeply about what I wrote it would become difficult to sell. I was right, it was.

That attachment was what pushed me into starting my own company, MediaCrash. I wanted to be involved with the things that I wrote from the first draft all the way to the point that the reader purchased it. I wanted to hand my work to them personally (or as personally as the internet would allow it).

Posted by Jon   @   27 March 2010 0 comments
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