Over the weekend I read an article by Rosemary Neill about an acclaimed Australian author of both children’s and adult’s fiction: Sonya Hartnett.
Although first published at 15 and at 39, with 16 novels written, she had this to say:
“I would never be great at what I did. I would never have [commercial] success…I’m good but I am not great. All these things I have just become resigned to. It’s better to be all right than to be crappy. Better to have moderate [commercial] success than have no [literary] success”
This from a woman who has won literary prizes and sold 250,000 books!
But what struck me was not how the world saw her or how many books she sold. The vital thing was what she felt about herself.
I’ve always felt that as writers, the first person we write for is ourselves. If we’re happy with our work, if it gives us satisfaction, then everything else is secondary. If we’re making a career out of it then, of course, it’s a different story. That’s why I don’t recommend the latter.
The article goes on: “Her disillusionment with writing reflected her frustration at seeing average books, such as Da Vinci Code or the Harry Potter series, being outrageously promoted…She objects to “this sort of rabid support of Harry Potter to the exclusion of so many good books for children. It was fine for a couple of years until it crossed the line and became really sickening and stupid.””
Hmmm…maybe I shouldn’t have bought the entire series. It seemed a good idea at the time.
Or perhaps the author was just feeling particularly negative that day. But isn’t that just so refreshing?