This is a kind of double question. I’m asking it of both writers and readers, as the simple fact is that they may not share the same views.
Some writers are utterly egocentric, and write as they do without even giving a nod to what readers might actually want. Some only write according to what readers want. Most try to keep true to themselves but acknowledge that they desire at least a reasonable amount of success and so endeavour to satisfy reader wants too.
Readers are generally driven only by a desire to be entertained or informed, according to genre read. A few, however, are looking for more – some great purpose or illumination. Fewer still are searching for the literary masterpiece, in which they find a writer who satisfies their ideas of perfect writing.
So, why do I write? That’s easy to answer. I enjoy writing, and I write stories that I would, as a reader, like to read. I do not write with some purpose beyond the telling of what I hope is a good tale! Sometimes, something of my own morals might creep in, but I hope that such instances never intrude too severely. I don’t want to change the world. I’m not so presumptuous to think that I could make that kind of difference. I’m not a teacher of ethics or spirituality! I like a good story, simple as that.
The question is, though, whether a tale has to have some purpose beyond itself, some mission. Do readers want to read something more than just a story? Do they suspect that reading is a waste of time and effort if they don’t find some message hidden within a tale? Or, are they perfectly happy to have a few books that ask no more of them than that they read them and gain simple pleasure from doing so?
If a story must have a purpose beyond the obvious one, then I’m wasting my time,and the reader’s time. That would sadden me. I would still write, but only for myself.
So, what are your thoughts?