Writerly missions

agentobscura has been talking about mission statements for writers, and several writers have posted their mission statements in the resulting comments.

I love the idealism there, but … many of the statements posted seem focused on the effect writers want their work to have, and I’m not sure that as writers we get to control that. We write stories about things we care about, but the readers take away from those stories what they will–any illusion of control goes away once the words get passed from the writer to a reader. So I can want my books to, say, show kids they’re not as weird or alone as they think are … but all I can do as a writer is maybe choose which sorts of kids to write about; whether the reader sees him or herself in those kids is not up to me.

I wonder whether writers for adults would focus so much on the effect they want their work to have. It seems we’re more content to say adult works need simply to entertain, while kids’ books are more expected to be actively good for the reader in some way. (Even though adults do have their lives saved by books from time to time, too.)

In simplest form, my own mission statement is simply:

– To write the stories I most want to write
– To have those stories read by others

Everything else–all the craft and business and promotional and economic details–are about ways to accomplish these two things.

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