A Novel Kind of Conformity by Tim Parks | The New York Review of Books

Published December 1, 2015 by Philip Ivory

“Anything great and bold must be brought about in secrecy and silence, or it perishes and falls away, and the fire that was awakened dies.”

That’s a wonderful quote from the New York Times Book Review article I’m linking to below, which makes some trenchant points about the wisdom of thinking less about meeting the needs of a perceived marketplace … and thinking instead about doing something that nobody else is doing.

I’ve been thinking about that, because in the literary fiction book group I belong to, our next discussion book is the extraordinarily successful space survival adventure, “The Martian,” by Andrew Weir.

Since the focus in our group is largely on literary writing, this book is a slight departure for us … and one of the questions asked in advance is:  “How does one go about writing a best-seller?”

I kind of think that’s the wrong question.

I don’t know what Andrew Weir set out to do. I’m going to guess he wasn’t primarily taking a strategic approach to the marketplace, even though his miraculous success might make you think so.  I think instead he allowed himself to write about subjects he loves … technology, survival, space and problem-solving. He found a story with which to play with those ideas, and then he let himself have fun writing it.

Ray Bradbury said: “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”

Check out the essay below, which is good food for thought about freeing oneself from all the marketing considerations, and instead writing what you love, and letting your enthusiasm for the subject matter infuse your work. Hopefully,  your reader will be infected by your enthusiasm and willingly come along for the ride.

 Is it really possible to be free as a writer? Free from an immediate need for money, free from the need to be praised, free from the concern of how those close to you will respond to what you write, free from the political implications, free from your publisher’s eagerness for a book that looks like the last, or worse still, like whatever the latest fashion might be?

Source: A Novel Kind of Conformity by Tim Parks | The New York Review of Books

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