Friday, 9 December 2016

Authorial Motivations

So here’s a question or three for you all: how do you feel about an author’s motivations to write a book? Is it important to know what motivated them? Does is affect your reading of the book?

The book that got me thinking about this topic was Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, which recently made the Man Booker shortlist. I was eager to read Eileen because of the mixed reviews I’d heard and because I was told it was deeply dark and thrilling, but then I found out that Moshfegh had deliberately written Eileen to be a book she could make money off. She read a book about how to write a novel that would make her rich enough to live off publishing books for the rest of her life and started to write Eileen as a result. Eventually, it obviously turned into something more than that, but I couldn’t help be caught up on the origins of the story.

I turned this over in my head for a while and thought about other authors whose motivations might not have been solely ‘to tell a story’ and came up with the other example of Charles Dickens. Dickens released his novels in monthly instalments and was paid by instalment (not, as the popular myth goes, by word), which enabled him to change the story as he went by gauging his audience’s reaction. Again, this doesn’t sit entirely well with me, and I’m not really sure why.

What do you guys think? Help me out and discuss below!
Happy reading,