I have a huge advantage right now. As a writer that is. As a creative mind. What’s that advantage? Being unknown.
Okay, I think that I know what you are thinking: “how the f^@& is being unknown an advantage as a writer? Don’t you want readers to know you?”
Yes and no. I am strange in that way. Or I am just strange in general.
I want readers, but I want readers to come to me for what I write, how I write it, and for my voice, rather than the idea of conforming to them. Particularly now too, being unknown is a good trait to have while developing my voice.
Now I’ve heard two different schools of thought on this topic. One is the idea that a writer should know their audience. This makes total sense from a perspective where gaining a readership is a person’s greatest goal. I do not have any argument there. I want readers too. It is a big goal of mine. It is not my primary goal.
The other idea is that I should write for me. I should find my voice, my muse, my style, and stick with it. Don’t conform. Don’t listen to the readers. To stay true to the art.
I’ve heard both used as compliments to writers; I’ve heard both used as insults. Both make complete sense. Being unknown allows me the ability to develop as a writer without influence that might take me a direction I do not want to go. Let’s just say for shits and giggles that my book “The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle” becomes an international sensation. (I really don’t know how it isn’t… he says with dripping sarcasm.) What would readers then expect from me?
For one, it is a YA modern supernatural fantasy action adventure. I might feel pressure to write more in that realm given the book’s (imagined) popularity. The money that would come in from the high dollar sales might tempt me to write in ways to capitalize more on that popularity. I might work to write more YA fantasy stories for instance, ignoring the side of my that wants to write something else completely unrelated that I might feel the need to write.
Another, given a certain amount of popularity, I might dull my wit (or at least what I see as wit) or blunt any sharper language. I might choose topics that aren’t controversial or tough because it might turn off a number of readers.
But I have few readers. Very few. Not enough of a crowd to place that undue influence on me as I write. I can build my catalog without worry. Without fret. I have the opportunity to change without the worry that I am going to piss off my audience. I can build a catalog that will show off my varying interests.
If there is a time that I find an audience, there will be a good supply of material for these people to explore. And as they explore my back catalog, they will find themselves less surprised as I take chances on things in the future.
So it’s good to be unknown. At least for now.