The Self-indulgent Writier
A writer can never be self indulgent whether writing fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. If one writes only to please one's self, the likelihood of publication becomes remote. Editors and agents will become aware of such an author quickly and dismiss such writing with a brief rejection slip. Although self-gratification is always a part of one's writing, it should not be the most significant motive for writing. The reader, and not the writer, is and should be the most important reason for publication.
For writing to be significant it must be honest and thoughtful. If the author is frank and pensive, it is sure to connect with the reader because it has the reader in mind at all times. This is true of novels, short stories, essays, articles, as well as poetry. Poets seem to acquire this empathy with their readers more than do other writers although some poets write only for self-gratification and catharsis and not for publication, but if such is the case then that writing is an avocation and not a vocation. All forms of writing must connect with the reader if one is to seek publication.
Of course, writing as a career is the main premise of this article. If one writes only to satisfy his or her urge to express ideas or to clarify ones thinking with no thought of publication, then the only reader will be the author, or a most chosen individual with whom to share. The career writer cannot and should not think only of his or her reason for writing; the reader must then be the major consideration.
If the professional author writes for the sake of self-gratification or catharsis and not for the respect and dignity of the reader, the work will be vacuous and inane. That thoughtlessness and self-centeredness will disillusion the reader and dismissal will soon follow. Unlike the poet, other writers must be logical, clear, and helpful in some way-emotional, entertaining, informational, or educational-and in a style that the reader can easily understand.
Once a writer becomes self-indulgent, he becomes a prisoner of the mundane and the tiresome. If a writer writes only to please him or her self, the reader will soon realize that and will reject that author's work for someone who is more relevant to his or her condition and state. Because the writing is ordinary and mind numbing, it sentences the author to rejection and rebuff.
Although self-indulgence is possible, it is not desirable.Any writer, to be successful, must refrain from self-satisfaction and view the work with objectivity and ruthlessness, editing and rewriting with the reader solely in mind. This is the mark of a professional writer.
Charles O. Goulet has a BA in history and a BEd in English literature. He has several historical novels published that are available at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores.
Charles O. Goulet
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COULD YOU (not) REPEAT THAT PLEASE?
I recently read a book where everything was akimbo. Arms were akimbo, legs were akimbo. Akimbo appeared on every page. Okay every page is a slight exaggeration, but akimbo was in every chapter more than once. I started thinking of the hero in the book as Adam West's posturing Batman persona. Every writer is guilty of the akimbo type of repetitiveness once in awhile. Most of the time we're not even aware that we're echoing ourselves. How do these unconscious akimbo dittos creep into our work? The English language is so rich with descriptors, why would we rob our manuscripts of the warmth and color that this richness brings to our work? Simply put -- we're lazy. When the afore mentioned writer was feverishly scribbling away on her book, she arrived at a moment when her character took a stance, and the first word that popped into her head was akimbo. Writing akimbo was easier than it would be to stop the flow of her writing and come up with a different way of saying akimbo. The only problem is instead of going back to edit out ninety percent of the akimbos, she left them in and it became a distraction to the reader (and humorous to me, which I'm sure wasn't her intention). Don't let yourself get lazy. Go through your work and get rid of repetitive words. Especially if they're words like akimbo that are not used in everyday conversation. If you need help, go to the Georgetown Linguistics website and use their frequency index tool (see the web address below). Copy your text into the box provided and click on the "Do it!" button. This website will give you a list of every word and how many times it was used in your manuscript. I would suggest (and this is just my opinion) that if you discover that you've used akimbo more than twenty-nine times, get rid of all but one of them. By the way akimbo appears 13 times in this passage. Annoying wasn't it!
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