When I grow up I want to be a hack writer.
I doubt many aspiring authors and creators ever uttered those words. Some of us might not even known what a hack writer is. To misquote Fitzgerald, in my younger and more vulnerable years, I was given writing advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind recently. The truth of the matter is hack writers got paid.
Gasp! Oh now, he said that bad word. Money. Writers, artists, and creatives of any type don’t talk about money. Are you crazy? If you’re in this for the money, than you’re not a real artist.
If you’ve been in the creative field for a while you’ve no doubt heard those words. Let me tell you something about that sentiment and this opinion is probably going to wrinkle some feathers to whoever hears this, but it is what it is.
If the money doesn’t matter, then why bother publishing your story? You might as well be George McFly.
Let me be clear and say I’m not talking about writing. Anyone who has the desire can write and that doesn’t have anything to do with money. I’m talking about publishing.
I’ve heard from authors on panels or on the internet, who have made their deals with publishers, “Oh, I don’t do this for the money.”
Really? Then why submit your work to publishers? If you’re a self-published author, then why did you even self publish for in the first place? If you didn’t do it for the money, then you did it for people to read your stuff because you have some kind of ego that drives you to think “Hey, other people would like this.”
And that’s not a bad thing. On some level, all creatives have some kind of ego in the back of our mind driving us. Why else would we create something and instead of just letting sit on your desk or hard drive, instead we look for a way to get it out into the world for others to enjoy what we’ve created. And again, that’s not a bad thing.
The bad thing to me, to get back to the point I started out with, is the concept that people who publish their books with the intent of getting paid, are often thought of as “hack writers” because we’re creating stories that people want to read and will pay for. Getting paid for your creative work isn’t a bad thing.
High literary types look down on supposed hack writers because they are writing things people want to read and are willing to pay for. Whether that be science fiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, or any other popular genre. Writing something people want to read is a good thing. And, sure, you can create art by writing what’s popular, thereby dismantling the “starving artist” myth. But for those that look down on genre writers as less-than, they are more worried about looking prestigious among the traditionally published world who pats itself on the back while handing out awards and buying best seller list spots.
Don’t get me wrong, and I’ve said this before, if I ever make a best seller list on my own merits, because we all know or at least should know, those lists are buttered up more than a loaf of breakfast toast, I’d be happy. If I ever win an award, I’d accept it. But most important to me is writing, making a career out of writing, and doing so by giving people what they want to read.
If that makes me a hack, then so be it.