Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Of course, what most of us aspire to be is the writer Cyril Connolly doesn't mention – the one who can write for themselves and for the public. But take a stroll around most bookshops, and it becomes pretty obvious that quality and popular are often poles apart.
In my school author talk, I always grab any opportunity to have a bit of a fun dig at the Twilight phenomenon. Yes, yes, I know that many young people who might never have picked up a book are reading Stephenie Meyer. We heard the same thing with Harry Potter. And this dig of which I speak (good-natured though it be) is often thrown back at me – usually by incensed teenaged girls – as professional envy. And sometimes the lines between that accusation and the truth can become blurry.
It would be very easy to be glib about this. 'I know money and success won't make me happy, but I wouldn't mind a chance to prove that theory for myself.' But the truth is, the uber-success of the Meyers and the Rowlings is what it is. As writers in a competetive marketplace, we choose to handle it the best way we can, which in my case is to remind myself that I am living my dream.
Recently a good friend (also a writer) had to remind me that negativity is infectious, and poisonous. And he's right. It's been the biggest single challenge of my writing career. And saying that I have no public is stretching things a little. I don't sell in vast quantities, but I sell. My books are in stores. I have some public. But I also know that I write for myself, and that's as important as anything else.
(If you're reading this via Facebook Notes: this post is redirected from my head vs desk blog.)