I don’t write to sell; I write to write. I write to make sense of the world and my small part in it. I write because I will have failed to live my life properly if I don’t. Writing’s in my script; it’s most of it. I write to make a difference, though—and not only for myself. I write to heal.
But look—I have no objection to sales; it’s just they don’t dictate what and how I write. If I sell some books, if I win some prizes, it’s a whole lot better than if I don’t. It lets me write more; it helps me write better, because it buys me the most important commodity in a writing life: time. Slow time. The kind one needs for composition. Sitting time, at a desk cleared of bills and “to do”s. Sales help me feed a family and a hungry mortgage; sales help me keep most of the weather outside.
And I guess it’s hard to deny that good sales figures prove that I’ve reached some readers. Sales in themselves, though, don’t measure one’s success. Prizes do that better; so do appreciative notes from readers one has touched. But it’s inside the room inside one’s self that one knows. And one’s knowledge is never unclouded by doubt. Nor should it be.
Sales count, but what sells counts more. Recognition matters, but what it’s for matters more.
I want to succeed like a mountain, like a day, like a river, like a phrase of music one can never forget and never wants to. I want to succeed like a child’s face, like love, like language itself.