I am writing this for you – But you may not like it
My friend Aine wrote a great post about her NaNoWriMo project, which is part of a larger series she’s been working on for several years. I’m writing this along the same vein with a different premise but similar conclusion.
I have bad news.
I have good news and bad news.
I’m not writing this book for you. I don’t know you. I have no idea what you’re looking for in your fiction. How could I ever predict it? How could I possibly reconcile your list of “musts” and “musnt’s” with those of every other potential reader?
I am writing this book for you, but you may not like it. Even though I don’t know you, and have no idea what you’re looking for in your fiction, I recognize that you probably don’t either. Who could have ever predicted the successes of many novels? Who polled potential readers before writing about a boy wizard going to school, a girl fighting to the death in an arena, or a Connecticut Yankee traveling through time? Who would have said they wanted those stories before they were published?
I can’t, but as arrogant as it may sound, neither can you.
It would destroy me, and everything I am trying to make.
To write this based on what you think you want would destroy everything I am trying to make for you.
So, here is the only guarantee I will ever give you: I will not publish a book I do not love. Because my only audience is myself. I am the only target I am trying to hit. It’s the only barometer I have. If you love it too, well…I sincerely hope you do. But I can’t guarantee that, and I will try my hardest not to be offended if the fruits of my labor just don’t do it for you.
So here is the only guarantee I will ever give you: I will not publish a book that is not the story I want to tell you. Because though you are my audience, this story is mine. You are the target I am trying to hit, but my own satisfaction is still my barometer. If you love it, I sincerely hope you do. If you hate it, then I have failed you, but maybe not others. This book is for them too. I will not be offended if the fruits of my labor just don’t do it for you, but if they do it for someone, then I have succeeded. Because this story is for them too. If this story was just for me, I wouldn’t bother telling it. It’s already in my head. I’m committing it to the page for you, not for me.
It would be easy, I think, to fall victim to the disease of satisfying the many at the cost of one’s identity. I resolve to keep the pitfalls present in my mind. I resolve to choose plot points based on what I like, rather than what would sell. I resolve to listen to the music in my ears, not the doubts in my heart.
While I write for you, I will not fall victim to the disease of satisfying the many at the cost of one’s identity. Many of you will not be satisfied by this story. But I will choose plot points based on what the story dictates, not what you think you want. I resolve to listen to the music in my ears, and to share that with you in the hopes that you will like it.
I will reach backwards, pulling forward the pillars that have made me what I am. I will reach forward to pillars not yet cemented, tethering them together with nouns, verbs, and adverbs (if too many of those) creating the best thing that I can at this moment.
I wrote this for you, and with you in mind, but not according to your specifications. I will reach backwards, pulling forward the pillars that have made me what I am, and reach to the connections between you, the reader, and me, the writer, and tether universal human emotions together with nouns, verbs, adverbs, and way too many convoluted synonyms. Creating something for you to enjoy, or not enjoy.
That is all that I can promise you.
I am writing the story I want you to read. Regardless of your feelings, I promise you that much.