Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is widely debated. For those who haven’t read any of Rand’s work, Objectivism is the idea that selfishness is the most progressive and beneficial outlook. For the sake of argument, try and separate the negative connotations that go along with the word “selfishness”.
Rand argues that if everyone did what was absolutely best for themselves, the world would be a better place. In fact, everything you do is already inherently selfish so why hide it? If you donate to charity t makes you feel good doesn’t it? If you hated it and it caused you great physical pain, would you still donate? Most people would say no. Rand’s philosophy is absolutely more complicated than this, and I honestly do believe there are certain truths in it and that it has its place in the political world. This blog is not about politics, it is about writing.
In Rand’s book The Fountain Head (by far my favorite book of hers), the main character is an architect. He is the embodiment of Rand’s philosophy in the novel. By other characters of genius in the novel, he is recognized as the steadfast, brilliant, creative, and undying Einstein. By the “lesser” characters (not subordinate in the sense of the philosophy, not the story), he is considered a stubborn, crazy, and cold person.
I am not endorsing that readers become selfish and withdrawn, or that the throw The Fountain Head out the window and never do another thing for themselves for the rest of their lives. If you choose to do that, great, but don’t let me influence you. The question I am discussing today is “as writers, what should we take away from this philosophy?”
Seriously. In your writing, do not compromise. Do not bend to the will of your audience. Do not re-work just to win your editor’s approval. If you know what your audience is looking for and you think it will make a great story then by all means, do it. If you editor points out a change that you believe will make the story more complete, I implore you to follow their advice. But never sacrifice your story.
I once wrote a character who died. A character I loved. It was for a children’s story, unpublished, about a boy coming of age. Over the course of the novel, I felt so much more connection with one of my characters than any of the others. And for the sake of the story, I had to kill him. My editor friend hated it. He thought the character should live, and so he lived. I re-wrote. The story isn’t unpublished because it isn’t good, it is unpublished because it has never gone through another revision. I don’t care for the story anymore.
Do not compromise your story for the sake of others. Doing this could possibly lose you a fan, maybe some money, possibly an agent or editor. And in that sense, this is a very idealistic and philosophical approach. If you do follow this advice, you will love your story because it will be yours. It will be genuine. It will be pure. I believe that the more passion you have for a piece, the more you will come to love it. That love does show through writing, it is difficult to hide.