Monday, June 13, 2005

Why I am able to write (by Charles Stross)

"Let's suppose you've got all these attributes. There's still a very important item missing off the list of ingredients for a successful novelist: a willingness to understand how the publishing industry operates. The romantic mystique of the artist starving in their garret while preparing a work that will revolutionize our conception of literature is, frankly, a load of rubbish: artists who starve in the attic either die in obscurity or eventually wise up and get a real job. Romanticizing deprivation and fetishizing ostracism is not the way to get your ideas in front of the reading public. While writing fiction is an art form, it's necessary to bear in mind that art is pointless without communication; if your form of art fails to attract people you have an audience for very long. Funnily enough, since editors are people too (in fact they're one of your two main audiences -- a point I'll get back to later), if they find your fiction repellant they won't buy it. If you want to revolutionize our conception of literature, it therefore follows that you must get us to pay attention to you . . . which brings our romantic mystique into a headlong collision with the base requirements of entertainment, because there's a dirty little secret that literary columns don't make a big point of: people usually read fiction in order to be entertained."

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