Why I’ll Never be a Published Author
Like most writers out there in the world, I really love to write fiction. Unfortunately for me however, I am absolutely positively not cut out for it.
My experience with writing fiction has mostly been as a ghostwriter for other people’s novels through gigs I secured on Fiverr.
Fiverr fiction is its own beast. Most of the fiction being commissioned on Fiverr is by people who want to be authors, but don’t want to write.
People out there are bitten by the self-publishing bug and want to get in on the action. They don’t, however, want to actually write anything, so they pay a Fiverr schmuck to do it.
They then slap their name on the finished product, put it online, then try to make it sell.
I’m someone that believes that money can buy absolutely anything, so if that’s your dream, more power to you.
The client who buys a novel from a ghostwriter will get exactly what they paid for, but nothing more.
It’s an edited, well-crafted manuscript that is technically fictional in nature. It isn’t, however, going to sell any copies.
The reason for that is the same reason why I’ll never be a published fiction writer myself. A piece of work that has been commissioned from a writer is never going to contain the heart and soul of a real readable novel.
The Soul of an Author
If an author writes you a book based on parameters you set as the client, that person is going to write with style and skill, but not with heart.
The book isn’t written from the writers’ vision, and it doesn’t contain the message that person is dying to tell the world.
It’s going to read as a forced out pile of crap that someone wrote as fast as possible to get paid before moving on to the next one.
The book won’t have a soul, which is, unfortunately, something every book needs in order to sell.
I’m not someone that is able to write with soul, so I’m not someone that can sell fiction.
As far as I understand it, soul is that raw feeling that writers dig from when they write.
When they craft a character, that character represents a pain from their past or a girlfriend that spurned them in their 20’s. They write from their hopes and dreams, their hurts and fears. They write with honesty.
I write entirely from my head, which is perfect for non-fiction.
I personally hate non-fiction that’s written with soul, because it’s filled with irrelevant feelings and observations that have nothing to do with what I’m trying to learn.
I honestly read a blog post about how to clean an air purifier that included stories from the author’s past and comparisons between the filtration unit and his heart.
I don’t need to know your backstory or how many times you’ve been hurt; I need to know how to pull apart a damn air purifier so that I can fish out the ring I dropped inside.
My writing is made up of my observations, research, understanding, and experiences, with a blend of sarcasm and cynicism.
I come by my sarcasm honestly though; it isn’t built up from a lifetime of pain; it’s simply the result of living in a world like the one we’re living in now.
My inability to access my true feelings and write from that well within us all probably does come from some childhood neglect or something like that, but I’m not about to make it the readers problem.
I’m unwilling to access that raw part of myself from which rich creativity and consequently great fiction is born, so I just won’t write it for traditional publication.
I’m not going to stop writing it in factory form for gig-type work, why would I? I logistically know how to do it.
You just throw a metaphor here, use some gross overkill there, and sooner or later you’ve got a book.
It’s certainly not worth paying for, but instead will be added to the mammoth-sized Kindle garbage-fire with all the other trash written by soul-less monsters like me.
I must say though, as much as I don’t have the necessary well of raw emotion to write fiction, I sure as hell love to read it.
The Well of Creativity
Bad fiction (which in my opinion is most fiction) is infuriating to try and read. I feel as though you can always tell whether a writer is fake or not before even finishing the first page.
A writer who has no business writing fiction gives themselves away within the first paragraph.
That opening line of dialogue that sounded just a little too similar to something you heard in ‘Rick and Morty’ is always a dead give away.
Because I teach, I’m always looking for great fiction that’s appropriate for children, but I can never find anything written during my lifetime that I enjoy.
Lately, my students and I have been working our way through the works of Enid Blyton. Because I live in China, not many people around me have heard of her. I literally get to introduce people to Enid Blyton, which is beyond an honour.
I think poetry is even more demanding of a soul than standard novel writing, which makes good poetry is even harder to find.
More people feel that they can write poetry, but so little poetry reads as genuine.
People write both novels and poetry for years without any success and never stop to ask themselves whether they should.
They never stop to wonder whether they even have access to the deep well of creativity within themselves to draw from. A poem could be technically perfect, yet dryer than plain toast.
Sometimes, people mistake bleeding-heart blog posts as deep and creative. They then question themselves when they find themselves hating what they’re reading.
“Is it me? Am I just not creative?”
The answer is no, the reader is never at fault.
A piece isn’t automatically sourced from a deep well of emotion just because the author is bleeding all over the page. Similarly, a piece of writing isn’t devoid of creativity just because the emotion of what you’re reading is subtle.
It’s deeper than that, it’s the subtext and the motivation behind what’s being written. It’s almost impossible to quantify truly brilliant fiction except just to say, you know it when you see it.
I believe we all have that deep well within us, but most of us have snapped it shut for one reason or another.
Perhaps we closed it because we couldn’t deal with the past, or maybe a psychologist helped close it for us.
Regardless of why it’s closed, I don’t believe bankable creativity such as poetry or novels are possible while it’s closed, no matter how good you are technically.
For those of us with closed wells, there are other ways of making a living as a writer. Great non-fiction books are still an option, as is blogging.
But if you absolutely must write fiction, sell it in the form of online gigs. You probably won’t make any money as royalties, but you will be paid. For a writer, being paid at all is an achievement unto itself.