Since I started this whole writing adventure, I've thought about the phrase 'selling out'. As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of Ayn Rand. Somewhere I read a quote from her (which I am unable to locate at this time) which said something to the effect of "You can't write crap in the hopes that it will catapult you to the point where you can write a great novel."
Those are my words, but the sentiment is correct. To me, that would be the ultimate sell-out.
Selling out, IMO, is ditching your integrity and writing something that goes against your beliefs just to get published. Like if I wrote a pro-environmentalism book or a pro-collectivism book. I look at it this way: Both of those philosophies might be popular and get me published, but by the time I finally got around to writing what I really believe, my credibility would be shot to hell. (And I'd spend the whole time hating myself for writing that crap.)
Writing just a story for entertainment purposes, rather than a magnum opus, is not selling out. If you're writing romance to pay the bills until you finish your 'great American novel', fine. Hell, if you're writing it just because you love writing it, great. As long as you're not espousing anything in those romances that would be contrary to who you are as a person. Same thing with mystery, commercial... Pick a genre someone has turned their nose up at. As long as you're being true to yourself, it's not selling out.
You don't have to write books with big ideas; you don't have to write 'important literary works'. You just have to always ALWAYS keep your integrity intact.
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