Do you even want to be published?

The surprise news is that Kate Atkinson has gone on the record saying she’d rather not be a published author, much to the amazement of book lovers and other (unpublished?) writers who seem to consider this a sure sign of insanity. 

So what I’d really like to know is what’s most important to you when you’re writing. Is getting published your sole goal or do you write simply for fun, for the pure pleasure of it and nothing else?

Claire Fogg

(Publisher for the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, A&C Black)

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7 Comments

Filed under Getting Published

7 responses to “Do you even want to be published?

  1. lawrenceez

    Getting published is my goal, nothing less, although I would be willing to settle for some type of Internet publishing as a last resort.

    I’m quite astonished that a published author would say something like this. It’s a bit of a sore subject for me because I’m trying to raise the funds to get my first novel read by an editor, and at the moment, the pressures are piling in from everywhere.

  2. Kat

    While lawrenceez is “astonished” that a published writer would not be fixated on the goal of getting published again, as someone who earned a living writing and editing for more than a decade, I am surprised by those who write solely to make money.

    I was 4 or 5 when I started writing I’m sure because I could, because I was allowed to write or at least not punished for writing like I was for so many other things I did, because I had stories inside me bursting to get out, stories that seemed to want to be told, stories I knew I wouldn’t remember, stories that told themselves best when accompanied by pictures I drew myself. For years, writing and drawing provided me with countless hours of fun, and as I got older helped me to win classroom spelling contests, easily complete and ace essays, reports and and blue book portions of exams, and enabled me to solve crossword puzzles without constantly resorting to the dictionary.

    Writing was fun, and everything associated with writing was fun, which of course included reading. Like so many writers, I was a voracious reader, and would still be today if not for other time-consuming responsibilities.

    All my life, I felt “possessed” or “forced” to write, to express myself or to put down on paper stories inside me that insist on getting out. This is why I felt so very lucky when, while in college, I got my first internship at a major daily newspaper in my state. And it was paid!

    Throughout my overly-obstacle-filled-life, I wrote for fun, for the pleasure of writing, for the satisfaction, no matter how minimal, I got from knowing that I had completed at least one thing in my day or my week or my month, even if it was just a single sentence.

    Although I earned money and even awards for writing and editing, as well as design, I have never written solely to get published. In fact, I cannot imagine a more difficult field to pursue, other than acting and art, perhaps, for someone interested solely in money.

  3. lawrenceez

    My main aim to to have my stuff read.

  4. That kind of sums it up. One writes because it isn’t really possible not to – it just keeps coming, as if there is a tap that can’t be turned off inside one – but it’s really great to get work published too, because then people can read it and hopefully enjoy it. For me there is an enormous satisfaction in seeing my poem in a magazine or my painting on someone’s wall and knowing that something I made gives pleasure and is appreciated.

  5. lawrenceez

    You’re absolutely right, Imogen. A writer can’t not write. I’ve even continued writing through huge bouts of repetitive strain injury because I’m compelled to write. Having said that, my aim is to get published, either through conventional means or through some type of self-publishing option (including the Internet). I’ve written two novels, both psychological thrillers. A friend passed the first novel to a literary agent who made extremely positive comments but felt the antagonist’s viewpoint lacked credibility. So I rewrote and made it worse and the agent suggested I work with an editor before submitting it again. I’m sure the situation could be a lot worse, but it’s pretty stressful at the moment.

  6. Rosie

    I’m writing a story, but only for fun a few of my friends are as well. We give each other ideas and I find that nice. I would like other people to read my story, but getting it published seems frightening and I would rather write for fun than worry about if other people would read it because I think if you worry too much about getting published you will lose why you wanted to write in the first place.

  7. I don’t fully agree. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for writing short stories and poems for fun. Anyone can always publish them to a webpage and get enormous satisfaction. A novel, however, is entirely different. A novel is a structural work (like a symphony, concerto or sonata). A novel requires a lot of work and planning. I doubt that many people would be prepared to put all those hours just so they could read their work on their own.

    Sorry, this is a a bit of a sore subject. I’ve spent years struggling as a performing musician in London and the last two years trying to get my first novel published.