For any writer, here’s a question to ask yourself: “Why do I want to write this novel?”
A student told me recently that he was writing his first novel in order to sell it for a lot of money. Though I fully understand this motive, I don’t believe it’s a strong enough reason to complete your work.
Writing a novel requires having skin in the game. We become invested in our characters. To write purely for money distances you from the aliveness of the characters, and can pull you out of your imagination.
Writing a novel is a search for the truth. The convergence of art and commerce does not happen in the imagination. In fact, art is often rewarded for eschewing monetary considerations.
I think it’s ridiculous to expect any novelist or memoirist to be indifferent about having his work seen, bought, and rewarded. When we make these aspirations more important than the story, however, we tend to kill what we’re attempting to birth.