What you put into it – what it takes from you – what it gives you in return

In Frankfurt, this weekend, we have a big international book fair on and I’m going there tomorrow.

As I was reading through the brochure I realized something I knew already: There are so many of us!

If you look at the amount of books published each year by various lucky authors and then look beyond that number and take all the hopeful unpublished authors – basically, we’re like parasites.

My general point about consumer society is that everything has been invented so basically, people go on inventing things no living being needs. Or people begin to sell themselves out. By that I mean talented singers making auto-tuned songs with four lines in total, the content being mainly about sex. Who cares if it has no soul in it if it makes them money right?

Question is, can I sell myself out as a writer, trying to beat all those other writers out there? I could start writing for the mainstream even though it isn’t me, whatever that is.

The thing is, artists shouldn’t make art for money. Of course I want to be published, I want people to read my stuff because I’ve been working on my style for a few years now and I will continue to do that and of course I want people to notice that. But I don’t want to have to compete with someone who’s better than me. And there always will be thousands – who are better than me.

So maybe I shouldn’t aim to get published, I should write only for myself and not for some publisher. Maybe it has something to do with: “Love yourself, before you allow someone else to love you.” I’m telling you, that saying is true. People with low self-esteem suck, sorry, but it’s true. I mean, listen to me at the moment. It’s annoying right?

Anyhow, that saying might have to be used for writing too. Maybe I haven’t given myself enough space to try things out  because I was worried nobody would read it.

And another thing (I know I’m lacking connectives right now, but whatever) is: They say: Write about what you know. I get that, I tried writing a thriller out of the perspective of a 35-year-old woman living in London when I was thirteen.

The project failed: I was thirteen, I wasn’t 35 (unless you can be two ages at the same time), the only thrillers I knew were those American TV series and an Audrey Hepburn film (Wait until dark) and I’ve been to London once and that was at the age of…under ten. So everything I wrote was out my reach and purely in my head.

So I tried writing something more close to me. It was about school, about popularity and non-popularity, about a guy (naturally) and about dealing with issues in the family. But you know, that’s nothing special. It’s no epic tale of saving the world or taming a dragon (How I wish they were real). My life is not that interesting, not for others anyway.

Sure, I’m english, grew up in Switzerland, moved to Germany. But that won’t be enough for a story. If that story would be in a book store it would be marked under comedy, because I get into so many awkward situations I’ve stopped counting. People would look at it, grin for a second and walk away. Nobody would buy it, except maybe my mother – who would probably ask for a family discount, no offence.

So here’s a list:

  • Don’t sell yourself out
  • Write for yourself
  • Don’t try to get published before you’re ready
  • Find yourself, not only personally, but literarily 😛
  • Don’t be scared to try new things
  • Don’t let money be your goal when you open a fresh page
  • Keep enjoying what you do
  • Don’t find enemies in writing, find friends
  • And most importantly, so that I too can quote that Journey song: Don’t stop believing.

That’s my list and I think that’s the only way I can keep writing without it becoming a drag, but so it can stay a privilege.

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