Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A few days ago Declan Burke put up an interesting post about Dennis Lehane in which he also discussed his own motivations for wanting to become a writer and the kind of writer he wanted to be. He listed off a few reasons:

"I guess every writer has his or her own motive for writing. Some want to be the best prose stylist ever read. Others want to tell stories. Some get into it to make their fortune. Some just want to be famous, rich or otherwise. And on it goes. When I was 17, my ambition was to write books that other writers liked."

Like Declan, at 17 I also wanted to be a writer. And whereas he went into journalism to maintain and nurture his writing ambitions, I went into academia. Both are publish or perish careers. For the past fifteen years I've told colleagues that my aim was to leave academia by the time I was forty to become a fulltime fiction writer - not because I wanted fame and fortune, but so that I had the time and space to pursue a passion. Given I'm forty one in a week or so, this clearly isn't going to happen! And that's fine. I love writing the academic stuff as well, though I could easily live without the admin and the other pressures of the job.

As for ambition with respect to my fiction writing, I wanted to write books that I would want to read. It's that plain and simple. I guess I figured that if enjoyed the book, then other people might as well, but I was most definitely the target audience. I got distracted along the way when early efforts found no favour with agents and publishers, but I'm now back in that space. And I've never enjoyed writing as much. I'm having a hoot writing the latest one. It's a book I would definitely read as a reader. And that's as much as I hope for. Now back to it.


Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - Oh, I agree completely! If I wouldn't want to read what I'm writing, I know I have to go back and start over..

Dorte H said...

Let´s see what I say in a week (after the official launch of my first novel), but on the whole I am also very happy writing crime stories that I´d like to read myself. And right now giving up my teaching job is totally out of the question, but who knows what will happen after this crisis?