I’m guessing there’s not a writer amongst us who has not ask him or her self the question posed on today’s Daily Post
A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?
It’s a tough one and though I would like to say that I would go for the prestige over the money, I am not altruistic enough to come to a quick answer right away. I think it’s an even deeper question for writers because what we are effectively choosing is whether our works add something to civilisation or gets lost in the backwash of bandwagon jumpers, forgotten in the maelstrom of shameless rip-offs – we are assuming of course that a book studied academically is said to be adding something meaningful. For me, that is a very powerful draw and I would (I think) give up all the fortunes of the world to be remembered as a writer who delivered something timeless and utterly profound.
I know most of my fellow writers who comment here seek to put meaning into their works. Assuming everyone is being honest, nobody is ever going to say “I’m writing something that grabs all of the tropes of the last ten years and regurgitates them. I don’t care if it’s rubbish, I just want it to make me money”.
My current novel in progress as you know is about a group of Roman gladiators investigating an alien invasion in the forests of Germania. Yet I feel I am carefully crafting six engaging characters and have given them complex back stories that will be fundamental to what they encounter in Germany. So in that respect, I am seeking meaning in my writing projects even if I do hope it’ll be a best seller!
So readers, which would you choose and why?