In my morning internet wanders, I found an article with this title:
If you write a book that nobody reads, are you really a writer?
My immediate response (which I tweeted) was “Yes. Next question?” Which may be all that needs to be said, but then I discovered I had further non-tweet-sized thoughts.
I believe that all creation transforms the world even if the only person changed by the creation is the creator. When a small child draws hundreds of drawings, we do not call it a waste. We understand that the act of drawing is helping the child learn skills. Some of the skills are tangible in the management of writing tools. Others exist only inside the mind of the child who is using art to help them conceptualize their world. We do not judge the value of a child’s drawing by how many people view it or purchase it.
Yet somehow as adults we try to evaluate (decide the exact value of) our creative endeavors based on dollars earned or attention earned. We lose track of the understanding that creation is valuable in itself. The child’s drawing isn’t made retroactively worthwhile if that child becomes a professional artist who is paid money for their art. Yes we can have goals for publication, readership, and sales of the things we create, but the meeting (or not meeting) of those goals is separate from the intrinsic value of creating the thing in the first place.
Are you a writer if no one reads what you write? Yes. Absolutely.