Eric Mayer

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Writing involves compromise. At least if a writer wants to be read by anyone. We all need to alter our idiosyncratic, internal imaginings so that they'll make sense to others who don't happen to be inside our heads.

There are many levels of compromise. If a writer believes that communication with an audience is a vital part of the writing experience, as I do, then deviating from what the writer, personally, might consider the ideal, in order to reach a particular audience or even a larger audience can probably be justified.

Then too, most of us don't have unlimited time to write. It might make sense to alter our writing a bit to increase the chance of it earning a few bucks, thereby allowing us to write more, even if what we're writing more of isn't exactly what we'd write otherwise.

Some writers might not have to worry much about compromises because they simply enjoy writing to maximize the money earned or the audience gained or to allow them to participate on convention panels and self expression or art be damned.

We are constantly bombarded with advice about writing. We are lectured on what editors want, what agents want, what sells, what doesn't, and to the extent this advice runs counter to what we want to write, we are being asked to compromise.

I compromise again and again as I write, to reach an audience, to make the work salable. But I will not compromise to the point that I am writing something I don't want to write. No matter what an agent or editor might say. No matter what the market might demand.

Only the individual knows why he or she writes and therefore only the individual can decide what kind or degree of compromise is acceptable. This is true, I believe, even insofar as deciding how important it is to get published.

We are constantly being told we must do this or we must do that and the implication is that failure to follow orders, and perhaps as a result failure to get published or to sell vast quantities of books, amounts to failure as a writer. It doesn't. A writer who refuses to write what is wanted by editors, agents or publishers, because to do so would require an unacceptable compromise, has not failed. The writers who fail are those who allow others to make such decisions for them.

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