Of late, I’ve received several query emails from men and women who have done that climb-Mount-Everest-type accomplishment of completing their first book. And, they have asked me a question that takes great courage to ask a complete stranger: “Do you think this book has any value?”
Even before I read their 10-page submission, I can give them the answer. It is the same answer I give every writer, including myself. The writing we do ALWAYS has value.
Many of us write because we can’t help it. Something resides within us, more persistant than heartburn, and we have no peace until we give it release. It might take the form of a poem, or an essay, or an article for the local newspaper – or it might turn into a book.
Like musicians and artists of other mediums, writers are artists, too. We’re given a desire and gift by our creator and we have to give it wings or we have no peace. No joy. We’re meant to use it. And so, by following that desire and giving our talent wings, we make the world a better place. If there is no value in that, there is no value in anything.
Now, does this work have COMMERCIAL value? Often times, my honest opinion is that it probably doesn’t. That’s because of the nature of our culture and the business of publishing. My family stories (look up DYSFUNTIONAL and you’ll see my whole clan) feel to me as though they’d make a best-selling autobiography, but guess what? Without celebrity status, celebrity support, or celebrity impact, my memoir – like most – will have no commercial value at all. But I will always believe that our histories, and memories, and old photos are important legacies to pass along to the next generations. There are lessons to be learned, mistakes to be avoided perhaps, or simply geneological information that gives someone roots. And we ALL need roots.
But, take all of that memoir material if you like and turn it into an awesome novel and you might, with good writing, good editing, a great cover and a desire to get the word out, have a book that makes you some money – some local commercial value at the very least.
Yes, fiction is generally more profitable than non-fiction, but not always. And while our stories count: to us, to our children, to our local communities perhaps, their real value lies in capturing memories and stories that will be lost forever if we don’t.
So, the best thought I can leave you with, is that if you are living with a burning desire to tell your story, to write a novel, to craft a book meant to help people to love and respect themselves and others – you’d better GO for it! We’re not on the planet to take up space – we’re put here to make a difference. Big or small doesn’t matter.
You – and your words – are PRICELESS!