An Unexpectedly Sentimental Post

As a result of recent events there’s been a lot of talk online recently about whether or not writing is a business or an art, or if one takes precedence over the other. In lots of ways writing for a living (in that you get paid for it and need those cheques to pay your bills) is very much a 9 to 5 job, with as many deadlines and commitments and consequences as any other occupation. In the end, there needs to be money coming from somewhere, and when money is involved, it’s a business.


However, I still believe it is an art first and foremost. This occurred to me yesterday when I finished reading Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy. These books have been a happy surprise for me- a romping dark ages adventure with romance, betrayal, bloody violence and all that good stuff, but also curiously moving. The books talk a lot about legends and humankind’s need to believe in something, even if it is a fallible man who happens to good with a sword, and I find myself still thinking about that book and those characters today. I’m sure, in fact, that they’ll stay with me for a long time, and that’s art, if you ask me.


I’ve mentioned it on here before, but Lemony Snickett summed up how I feel about writing in an especially excellent Nanowrimo peptalk- the full version of which you can read here. When I’m feeling troubled about why exactly we do this and how I can possibly drag myself through another page of editing, I read those words and remember that I do it because making things feeds my soul.


“Writing a novel is a tiny candle in a dark, swirling world. It brings light and warmth and hope to the lucky few who, against insufferable odds and despite a juggernaut of irritations, find themselves in the right place to hold it.”

3 thoughts on “An Unexpectedly Sentimental Post

  1. I think the trick has to be finding a balance between business and art. I know that I don’t switch modes easily – if I start the day with creative activities, I find it hard to switch to routine chores, and vice versa. Being business-like about your writing needn’t mean that you can’t write meaningful fiction, but you need to make space – and time – amongst all the “busy work” of running your career, in order to hear the voice of your muse whispering in your ear. It may be counter-intuitive, but maybe what writers need is a dose of old-fashioned time management!

  2. @Anne- I guess like a lot of things, writing is often a balancing act between your artistic urges and the need to actually get your words in front of readers. I hope that most people first put pen to paper with the need to make something in mind, rather than the need to make some cash (gawd knows there are quicker ways of doing it!)@Cate- it’s great, isn’t it? I have the whole thing printed out and stuck in my writing folder, so I can read it whenever I’m feeling wobbly. :)

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