My brother and I are very cynical people. We watch an awful lot of movies together, and every so often I’ll make an observation along the lines of, “wow, I can’t believe that actor agreed to be in this movie.” Especially when the movie is really silly and kind of a flop. My brother very wisely says, “how much is your soul worth?”
I think this line works particularly well, especially when artists succumb to popular trends to generate sales. It is almost like they are selling their dignity for the sake of making money.
As far as writing goes, I never really thought that anyone sold their soul to make money. I always thought that people wrote what they felt passionate about. Personally, if I don’t feel passionate about something, it won’t get written. It’s like torture for me to think about what doesn’t fascinate me.
But there are strategies and writers that take advantage of what’s popular on the market. Remember the onslaught of Harry Potter knockoffs? And the overflow of vampire romances?
I know this seems like such an obvious revelation — writing is a business, just like anything else. But in my naive mind, I just thought writers were fortunate enough to care about stories that other people just naturally resounded with.
There are many writers that are purely passionate, and their success stems from their natural ability, like Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling. There are also many others, such as Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson, that churn out marketable, popular books.
Personally I don’t think one way is more noble than the other; I’m just astounded and impressed that people can write decent stories based off of market value and not their inherent passions. I lack that talent.
To the other writers out there, which category do you fall under? Do you write for yourself, or do you write for the market? Do you think one way is better than the other?