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.”