Harlen Campbell

"A writer of fiction has just one obligation -- to entertain the reader.
Only if he has done that superbly can he deal with his personal concerns in a story."

Writing: The daily grind. . . .

         Writing fiction is a stupid way to make a living. Payday comes once a year in good years and the check is rarely anything you'd brag to your mother about. Reaction to your work comes only when a new book is released. Most of your time is solitary time, and that's hard time. So what's the attraction?

         Well, there's nothing quite like the first sight of your first book on the shelves, right down the aisle from Hemingway or Hammett or whoever you've chosen to measure yourself against. You get to autograph books, but on the other hand, you have to autograph books. You get to hang out with other writers occasionally. (In Albuquerque, we have a group we call the First Friday Forum because it meets once a month on the . . . but you've already guessed.)

         What else? You can work when you feel like it, but you'd damned well better feel like it regularly. No one yells at you except editors and agents and reviewers and everyone who bought a book and found it too salacious or nowhere near sexy enough or too violent or downright boring or . . . you get the idea. Everyone. Of course, you don't have to listen to any of them because, after all, it's your damned book and they can bloody well write their own if they don't like it, but then you find out that they all have, or are getting ready to, or have this terrific idea they'll tell you all about if you want to write a sure-fire best seller next time, but they want half the royalties and your editor's name, or your agent's (Rich Henshaw), or an introduction to a writer they really like.

         So why write? Because if you didn't write, you'd have to do something else, and everything else is like drinking milk after you've tasted whiskey.

© 2004-2015 Red Hand Productions

Copyright ©1995-2015 Harlen Campbell — Last updated August 21, 2015.