Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Five "W"s

This past week, with the publication of my third book in as many months, people have been asking a lot of questions.  Most of these are, in one form or another, articulated in the form of one of the following five questions:

Who do you write your books for?
What do you write about?
When do you have time to write?
Where do you do all of this writing?
Why do you write?

So, in the interest of writing a bit more--and keeping all six of my readers satisfied--my next five blogs will address these questions.  Here goes:

Question:  Who do I write my books for?

Answer:  For the people who want to read my books.  Well, this may sound like a simple, or even flippant answer, but in reality, the six people who purchase my books simply want to read my books.  Last year only five people purchased my books, so I'm making progress toward the best-seller list, and that makes my head swell.

It should also be said that I write for varied readerships.  (This is, perhaps, the biggest frustration for my agent, my various publishers, and for my family, too.  I'm nearly impossible to classify or pigeonhole.  I don't have a genre.)

I write for those six faithful readers who have $14.95 to blow on superfluous expenditures like bound paper products, but who might enjoy reading a book (or find help from a book) about breast cancer, or collected essays, or poetry, or even wines.  I write books for people who want to read what my mind, in its myriad expressions, can concoct.  

I also write books for publishers who want to publish what I can write. This may seem like a paradox, but it has always been the case in the publishing industry.  I have hundreds of book ideas--far too many for me to publish in my lifetime--but will write the ones that publishers give me the green light to write.  I write books for those publishers who tell me, "We'd like for you to write the book you are proposing . . . this next one that is unlike the book you wrote last week, but seems to be a book that one of your six readers might purchase."

I write books for myself.  In fact, most of the books I have written (hundreds of them by now) will never be published.  They sit on my shelves in my office, stacked to the ceiling, or stored away on hundreds of dusty floppy disks . . . but I wrote these books, in part, to satisfy some curiosity in myself, or to practice writing, or just because I wanted to write another book in order to say, "I have written another book."  I write for the audience of one--which is me--and there is a part of me that doesn't give a **** if anyone (publisher or reader) wants to read that book.  

I write for my wife.  People may be surprised to hear this.  My wife has only read a few of my books (most of what I write she has never read, and never will, and I've come to grips with that reality by taking cold showers).  But I write all of my books, in part, out of love.  I write books so she will not think that I am a complete failure, or so that she will be impressed by my words and, perhaps, in some weak moment, want to make love for three and half minutes.  I have dedicated nearly all of my books to my wife, even the ones she has never read, and it gives me a thrill to show her a new book and the dedication page, and watch her stuff the book in her library while announcing, "That's nice, sweetheart . . . I'll get to it some day."

I write for YOU.  Are you still reading this?  I write for that person I'll never meet.  The one reader of my imagination, who has lost his bearings and his financial compass, and who just has to buy the book I've written.  I write for anyone who likes to read.  I write for the white Protestant in America and the black Jew in Egypt.  I write for that kid in Mexico and that old lady in Poland (yes, I have one Polish edition).

I write for people.

Isn't that enough?         

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