One of my favorite novels is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and one of my favorite parts of that book is the Coda at the end. Bradbury discusses the atrocities editors and readers have committed on his novels. Everything from taking out the “hells” and “damns” to make it more “appropriate” for high school students to suggesting the writer insert more female characters into The Martian Chronicles. If you know anything about Bradbury you can guess his response. It is poetic and scathing and basically he says to leave his writing alone. He doesn’t give a damn what the reader wants.
The whole idea of editing a novel so it will sell to a particular audience raises an interesting question: Is it more important to write what sells or what matters? As a writer are you willing to let editors rework your material so that it is more marketable, and if so, how far are you willing to let them go? Will your message, if you have one, be distorted into something that you no longer recognize? Are you all right with that if it means you finally get to see your work in print?
I am not saying that every writer must have a message of some kind but surely each has an idea about how they want their stories to be read. But I think every aspiring writer must ask himself what sacrifices they are willing to make to see their writing become successful?
I’m wondering what other writers think. Is there anyone out there who has personally experienced this conundrum?