I’ve mentioned a name of one of my projects, Jack Meredith, multiple times before, and I always talk about how it had a drastic change. Ask me about it, and I could talk about multiple iterations, all extremely different than the next. But, the actual important part of that story isn’t that it changed a lot. It’s why.
See, when I went into my writing program, I had this idea. I wanted to become the absolute best writer I could be. I wanted to write things that were smart and people thought were smart. I wanted to write literary science fiction (and for those who don’t know the jargon, that pretty much means I wanted my books taught in school because I was just that pretentious). So, I focused on the purpose of the book. I focused on writing this book with that idea over just writing the story.
In the long run, purpose tends to be more distracting than beneficial. Of course, I’m not talking about the rhetorical situation. It’s always good to know why one is writing something when we are talking about the goal. If you want to write a comedy, you probably are writing it to make people laugh. That’s simple. When I say don’t worry about purpose, I’m talking about the “deep” version, the type to froze me. And, it’s all because it is almost like a type of anxiety. The more that you think about why you are a writer or why your book matters in the world of literature, the higher the bar is set. Consequently, the pressure goes higher and higher. It’s actually quite ridiculous to be honest.
The irony is how purpose tends to be self-fulfilling. By which I mean, after the writer completes the book, the book will be what it will be. If the book turns out to be the next American novel, well there you go. Your purpose was to be that. I doubt that George Washington kept thinking, “I’m going to be the first president of the United States.” Nah, he fought for what he believed in, and he got to where he needed to get. That’s really how purpose happens. It’s more of a hindsight bias kind of thing. You see it once you’ve passed it. So, ultimately, it’s pointless to worry about it.
Sincerely, I kind of hate myself for writing this post. It makes me feel as if I were saying that it’s a horrible idea to write a book targeting some intellectual pursuit, almost as if I were condemning those attempts. I swear I’m not. It’s just that I’ve learned that whatever the writer is will reflect in their writer. A person who enjoys pulp fiction and writes is will probably not be the type of writer to write Moby Dick. I mean, it’s not impossible, just highly unlikely. That’s why I’m not doing it anyway. I’m just going to write about hackers doing their hackery shenanigans in my stories. And, I’m going to enjoy doing it.