Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Conflict of Interests

By and large, I tend to read nonfiction far more often than fiction, especially in recent years. When I was a boy (and on through my early twenties), I devoured fiction of nearly every kind, mostly thrillers and fantasy, with a smattering of mysteries. I was up on most classic fiction -- heck, I even read War and Peace three times. But now that I'm older and my priorities have shifted, I'm far more apt to read nonfiction.

This in itself isn't strange. What's strange is that, while consistently reading nonfiction of late, I continue to write fiction. They say you're supposed to read what you write. If you write scifi, read scifi. If you write chicklit, read chicklit. If you write about cosmic marshmallow unicorns jumping through holes in the universe, read about cosmic marshmallow unicorns jumping through holes in the universe.

I have ignored this cardinal rule.

Well then, why don't I write nonfiction?

Here's the trick with nonfiction: In order to market and sell most nonfiction, the writer should have what is known as a "platform". For example, if I were to write about tumors in parakeets, I would be able to sell the book if I were a vet or ornithologist who lived with the parakeets in the spirit of Jane Goodall and made their tumors my object of study for ten years or so.

But I haven't, so I couldn't sell a book like that.

The nonfiction books I want to write would require a career in politics, a degree in history, and/or a position of theological eminence. I have none of these. I am not Sarah Palin, Stephen Ambrose, or Joel Osteen. Thus, were I to write such books, I would be unable to market them with much credibility.

So fiction remains.

Not that I resent being relegated by circumstance to the creation and sale of fiction. While I may not spend much time reading it of late, I do enjoy writing it. It's an escape from the real world that, to be honest, nonfiction does not provide.

I like escaping reality on occasion.

Making a career out of it wouldn't be so bad.

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