Okay, maybe “Pleasing Yourself” would have been a more accurate title, but I got your attention, didn’t I?
James Scott Bell is a regular contributor to Kill Zone, a collaborative blog of crime fiction writers. His posts are always worth reading; today’s post resonated with me, for reasons that will become clear to regular readers here.
The crux of the post is a quote from Edna Ferber:
"Those critics or well-wishers who think that I could have written better than I have are flattering me. Always I have written at the top of my bent at that particular time. It may be that this or that, written five years later or one year earlier, or under different circumstances, might have been the better for it. But one writes as the opportunity and the material and the inclination shape themselves. This is certain: I never have written a line except to please myself. I never have written with an eye to what is called the public or the market or the trend or the editor or the reviewer. Good or bad, popular or unpopular, lasting or ephemeral, the words I have put down on paper were the best words I could summon at the time to express the things I wanted more than anything else to say."
Years before anyone ever dreamed of self-publishing electronic books, Ms. Ferber summarized a key reason for my decision to self-publish more eloquently than I have, or most likely will. (Hell, that was even before Ms. Ferber could have imagined being referred to as “Ms.”)