I was talking to a "famous, rich, important person"* the other day and he asked me a very simple question:
"Why did you write a book?"
What did he mean? I'd been interviewed a zillion times in the past few months, asked a ton of the same questions, most of them boring, a few of them interesting, but I'd never been asked the most obvious one:
Why did you write a book?
I was so flummoxed I asked him to expound:
"It's a lot of fucking work writing a book, isn't it? Why do you do it? Not for the money, right? Bigger speaking fees afterwards?" Why, Aaron?!
Sometimes we get so caught up in our art we never think why we're doing it.
I mean, the guy who writes the spec scripts for potential Nic Cage movies is surely writing them to become rich.
The dude who writes love sonnets is probably writing them to get laid.
The girl who writes in her diary every night is most likely just being therapeutic.
But, why did I write a book? Why did I write "How to Fail"? Hmmmm...
I answered back:
"Yes, it's honestly one of the hardest fucking things I've ever done. And, I'm not sure it would have ever gotten done if my reasons weren't pure. I wrote the book because of only one reason: I had something to say. Simple as that."
But "famous, rich, important person" wasn't going to let me get away with such bullshit. So he called me on that:
"If 'I had something to say' was the main reason, why not just blog? Why go to the trouble of a published paper book?"
Damn, he's good. Probably why he's famous, rich, and important.
Now I really had to delve deep, really look within myself. Why did I write the book?
I suppose "I had something to say" that needed 400 pages to say it. Honestly, if I hadn't found a publisher quickly, I wouldn't have languished for years looking for one, I'd have just released "How to Fail" on my blog, chapter by chapter or something. This is what I've been telling other friends to do who have had an unpublished manuscript sitting in a desk drawer for years. Luckily, or unluckily, I found a publisher and kinda fell for some aspects of publishing I would have never guessed I'd fall for. Covers and page design and book store signings. I'm a devout Kindle reader, but I liked having a book I could hold and look at. And, without paper books, I could have never done the 30 Bars in 30 Days book tour which I feel was integral to getting a "nobody" like me some buzz.
So, I enjoyed it, yes, but in many ways it is more trouble than it's worth. If my future publisher(s) don't make the process less trouble, then I'll gladly just release all my future books self-published on Kindle, which is easily done. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to spread my ideas, like we all are.
Or...maybe I'm just bullshitting myself and I thought the book would make me rich.
So, if you wrote a book, why'd you write it? If you're planning to write a book...WHY?
*anonymous name dropping?