Who Are You Writing For?

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From Writer Unboxed:

What do I, as an author, owe to myself? What do I owe to my publisher? To my readers?

I think about this often as I promote my debut novel, Waiting for the Night Song, while simultaneously revising my forthcoming novel, The Last Beekeeper, and drafting what will hopefully become my third novel.

To whom do I owe what?

I wrote Waiting for the Night Song with no expectations. I created a story I needed to tell, not knowing if I would ever sell it. I wrote the book for myself. After landing the elusive book contract, I incorporated changes based on suggestions from my editor. At this point, I was still writing for myself — sort of.

New expectations started lining up.

I wanted to please my editor and my agent, both of whom took a gamble when they signed me. I wanted to make them proud. I wanted my book to succeed commercially. But mostly, I need this book of my heart to be mine, to be the book I had envisioned for so many years.

It was still my book, right?

Ideas, many of them bad, started sneaking into my head. Should I add more surprise twists? Books with twisty plots were topping the charts, so I added a poorly-conceived plot contortion, for no reason other than I thought readers wanted it.

I quickly deleted the ridiculous subplot because it didn’t serve the theme of my book, and this book was, after all, for me.

To be clear, my editor and agent have never pressured me to change my writing in ways that didn’t feel right for my story. They make suggestions, not demands. But after years of writing just for myself, I now feel the burden of writing for other people, as well.

I started to wonder: Was Waiting for the Night Song still mine?

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed