What I Want as a Writer

Every writer has a dream of what they want for their career.  For some, it’s riches (ha!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!), for some, it’s getting a place at the table that is SFF Publishing and fandom, and for others it’s fans.

Me?  I don’t hope for riches, though I certainly won’t say no if the option ever comes to me.  A place at that table would be nice, but not all writers get that, either.  Fans?  Yeah, sure, but that’s secondary to what I really want.

I want to entertain readers. More than that, though, I want to affect them.

I want to make readers weep the way Melanie Rawn, Anne McCaffrey, and Harlan Ellison made me weep.  I want to make readers think the way Harlan’s introductions, or Asimov’s robot stories, or even Star Trek made me think.  I want to make readers so eager for my next book that they haunt bookstores (or, I guess, book sites these days), the way I checked for the next CJ Cherryh or CS Friedman novel.

I want teenage readers to be so in love with my work that their parents see my name on a book and know it’s a good choice for their kid, the way my aunt knew that buying me a new book by Anne McCaffrey was a good choice even though she never read the stuff.  I want to make people second-guess their lifelong beliefs once in a while.  I want to make them laugh.  I want to make them smile, sit back, and say “Man, that was a good story.”

And I want to create book evangelists, who shove one of my books into their friend’s hands and say “No, really, read it, it’s awesome,” in the same way I insisted my friends read Ian McDonald’s Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone or Children of Dune.

I want to write passages so achingly good that they make the reader cry not just the first time they read it, but every time, just like I still cry when I read the ends of books 2 and 3 of The Books of the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, even though I see the flaws in those books, too.

I want to console people drowning in grief just like Steven Gould consoled me through Jumper, and how Neil Gaiman did in just about the entire run of Sandman.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I want to be for others the same thing so many writers were for me.  I want to be their clown, their muse, their lifeline in moments of self doubt, and their solace in times of grief.

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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