Payment Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
So, you want to sell your writing? No? You don’t? Wait… why not?
Oh, art, you say, and you don’t wish to sell out. I see. But see, where I come from compliments are easy – and cheap – but when people dig into their pocket and take the approximate price of a chicken or a six-pack of decent beer and lay it out for my novel, THEN I know I’m appreciated.
Writing – or any form of storytelling, really – is a two-way communication. At least it is if it’s working right. It might seem to you that you’re just standing on the corner, rattling off the story to an unresponsive audience, but if you’re doing it right, it’s just not that way. (And realizing this was the difference between being an amateur and starting to sell my stories at pro level.) That beautiful metaphor you just crafted with your amazing word skills goes for nothing if it doesn’t evoke a mood or a feeling in your reader.
It might seem to you that the ultimate product of the storyteller’s craft is the words that appear on the page of that are spoken out into the crowd. This is not true. The words are just the tools you use to bring your art about. Calling them the product of your art would be like calling pastel sticks the product of the artist’s craft. The result of the artist’s efforts with the pastel is a completed portrait or scene. And the result of your craft with words is the emotions the reader/listener feels. If you’re doing it right, you’ll evoke just the right emotions and take your reader on a ride through comedy or tragedy to catharsis and either an escape from the everyday or – ideally, though few of us attain it – a return to the everyday equipped with tools to face real life emotions in a new way.
When a traditional storyteller is doing this, it is not unusual to have a begging bowl at his or her feet. The storyteller can tell how well the emotions are being invoked in the public by how fast that rain of coins hits the begging bowl.