Means and Ends in Writing

Nowadays, it is hardly necessary to ask people if they believe that 'the end justifies the means', because practically everyone does believe it. Probably, the most successful soldiers and statesmen and diplomats and business men and lawyers, and members of nearly all professions, always have believed it, and perhaps that is the reason why they have been successful in establishing personal reputations and getting wealth, rather than in developing a decent world. But there are some occupations in which a belief that 'the end justifies the means' can be a handicap just as easily as it can be a help, and I think that writing is one of them.

Of course, it all depends what you write for—what you want to tell people, and what you want to get out o f it yourself. For the present purpose (of this talk) I take for granted that most writers really wish to examine life, and to make the aspects of it with which they are best acquainted better understood by other people. I am surmising that they are honestly indignant about some things, and truly impressed by the truth and beauty of other things. I am regarding them as people filled with thoughts and words that must get out. But I am thinking of them as people sufficiently practical-minded to want a proper reward for what they do, and not as reformers who, through saintlincss or exhibitionism, want no reward except listeners.

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Published 1 October 1979 in Volume 9 No. 2. Subjects: Creative writing process, Literature & writers, Political fiction, Writing.

Cite as: Casey, Gavin. ‘Means and Ends in Writing.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 1979, doi: 10.20314/als.a058581927.