And the winner is…

My fiction won’t win any awards. Nor will it even be read by many people. (Nudge, nudge—come on friends, tell your friends about my books! ;) ) Don’t get me wrong though, I’m okay with this. Popularity is not something I’ve sought, and although success would be welcomed (probably, it would depend on the form it took), I’m not inclined to pursue that either. I hope that people will find my books by happy accident, and maybe even enjoy them more than they thought they would.

All this raises an interesting point—just who am I writing for? Mark touched on this issue in his last post about a creative writing course he took and some of the other people involved. It seems that there are a couple of schools of thought on this. On the one hand you have the fan writers. These are people who write new stories in an already established world (Incidentally, many new self-pubbers do this to build a name for themselves before launching their own stuff.). Take, for example, Star Wars. There are literally hundreds of thousands of nutty maniacs out there who daydream about Star Wars and the role they’d play in that world as if it were some kind of real place they could go to. Even if they could get there, chances are they’d end up selling dirt to some kind of insectoid alien rather than be a glamorous Jedi knight. But that’s the point of fantasy, isn’t it? We can all be Jedi knights in our heads for a while.

The other major school of thought on this says to write for yourself. Writers are probably their own harshest critics; I know that’s certainly true of me. When I go back and re-read things I’ve written, I generally think it’s utter crap. Undoubtedly I’m more critical than I need to be, and thinking this is likely why I’ve taken the extra steps to make my writing available instead of sobbing all the way to the dumpster, arms filled with the drivel I’ve produced. (As an aside here, I’ll add that in my experience people who know you personally and don’t write themselves will probably be even more critical of your work than you will be yourself. Ouch!) Anyway, brass tacks here says that if you’re entertained by what you’ve done, then you’re on the right track.

The middle way here is again probably the wisest. Write in such a way that you enjoy it, but keep in mind people you know who are also likely to be entertained by what you’re creating. In short, have a general audience that you’re aiming for, and focus on them. No one can please everyone, nor should anyone try, really. Emulate authors you admire till you find your own voice, and along the way you’ll learn a lot about that genre and the expectations others have from it. And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be read to a Jedi youngling as she’s nursed to sleep by a giant sulfur-breathing jellyfish.

Next week, Paul j Rogers revisits getting feedback.

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One Comment

  1. Paul
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Yes, fan writers: now that’s an interesting subculture…

    As for reading your own stuff, that’s a tough one. Knowing the story and characters inside out, all you can see are weaknesses, things you wished you’d re-written. Writers are probably the worst people to have an objective view on their work precisely because it’s their own work. Time will probably be a better indicator of its true merits and weaknesses. After five years, go back and re-read it and maybe you’ll be able to see its strengths, too.

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