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23 January 2012 @ 10:13 am
Who do you write for?  

In what could quickly become a recursive loop, Harry Connolly mentions a post by Nick Mamatas, and–look, the point is Harry’s post, not Nick’s, or even actually just a comment Harry made on his own entry, which was “I write with one or two actual readers in mind (as well as myself).” So of course I immediately started thinking about who I write for. And the answer (if not made obvious by my nerves over the book I wrote for my nephew) is “Me!”

I mean, yes, I *clearly* hope lots and lots and lots of other people are going to enjoy what I’m writing. But like many of us, I write the stories I want to read*. Take the Walker Papers, for example. When I started that series, the urban fantasy that was out there was really just LKH and Jim (remember, I wrote URBAN SHAMAN in Y2K, even if it didn’t get published until 2005), both of whom featured protagonists who already knew what they were doing. Well, I wanted to read about one who didn’t. So I had to write it. With the Negotiator Trilogy, besides wanting a Beauty and the Beast story where the Beast would never be human, I also wanted urban fantasy with a protagonist who was just human, no powers of her own. So I wrote one. The project I’ve got out on proposal is definitely one I’d love to read, and the one I need to write a proposal up for is also something I’d like to read. That’s largely how it works for me. And there’s enough that I’d enjoy writing that at times it’s a bit of an agony deciding what I might end up working on.

Of course, when you get down to it, I can generate enthusiasm for writing just about anything someone wants to pay me for, so I’m not writing for an audience of one in that regard. I inevitably will write a book I would want to read, but I don’t think it’s really possible not to. I mean, I have to live with the thing for the writing of around 100,000 words, and that’s a lot more living with it than reading 100K is. I’d probably paralyze myself if I started thinking in terms of writing for others, even though I obviously *know* that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I suspect that was all obvious, but I was moved to write it anyway. :)

*The fact that I do not then read them is largely nonwithstanding. I observed to a friend a couple of days ago (after she posted, charmingly, on Twitter that “The Cardinal Rule is that CE Murphy’s books are awesome.”) that the Cate Dermody** books are the only ones of mine I’ve ever re-read for pleasure. This is largely because I wrote them each so quickly that they *almost* feel to me like someone else wrote them. I do tend to want to edit them a bit, but it’s easier to just read them than it is anything else I’ve written.

**Speaking of the Dermody books, I mean, you want to talk about ideas that are an agony to decide whether or not to work on them? Not only were there 13 books planned for the Strongbox Chronicles, but I have two, no, three, other series ideas for action-adventure romancey things that I’d love to write under the Dermody byline. The Rainbow Room Romances, the Queen City series and the Angel Archives. It’s like forty books that Cate Dermody alone could write, and I’ve no idea if she’ll ever get the chance to.

(x-posted from the essential kit)

mikaela_lmikaela_l on January 23rd, 2012 10:51 am (UTC)
Well, if you want to write more Cate Dermody novels, why don't you do a Kickstarter campaign sometime next year?

0h and all of them sounds really interesting! :).
kit: garrisonreport_nodominionmizkit on January 23rd, 2012 02:21 pm (UTC)
I may still be working on the "No Dominion" stuff next year! Maybe sometime after /that/! :)
mikaela_lmikaela_l on January 23rd, 2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
Oh. Right. All those extra novellas. :D How long do you expect No Dominion to be, btw?
kit: garrisonreport_nodominionmizkit on January 23rd, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
I have absolutely no idea. I thought it was going to be 30K, but I've reached 12.2K and I'm only just now getting to the scene I thought would, like, be the second one. o.O
mikaela_lmikaela_l on January 23rd, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
Woot! A full length novel. Kidding. I have a feeling that there wont be any other novellas, though. Which is fine with me :).
Rachie: nefarious porpoisesrachie203 on January 23rd, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
I second this concept (should you ever find the time between your other projects). I quite enjoyed the Strongbox Chronicles and think more Dermody books would be fun.
tamagotamago on January 23rd, 2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
This is one of the reasons I Will Never Be A Writer. It is TRUEFAX, somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain, that I am not an audience worth writing for. So any attempts to write things "because I would like to read it" is doomed to failure. And because I have not found any sort of audience for the things I seem to be interested in writing, there's absolutely no percentage in putting fingers to keyboard for anything much longer than a blog post at a time. Yes, I am a victim of my own psychology, but I've sucked it up and I just deal with it. ;-)
rfrancis on January 24th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC)
With my crazily lesser experience, I have to say, I write for myself, also. I mean, my authorial voice is, hmm, often wryly humorous in tone (I've read too much of Jim and Steven Brust and Zelazny and Robert Parker and...) and I can't think of a single time I've wondered who else might find that stuff amusing.

Of course, I've never sold anything, so this might not be proving what I want to prove...

ETA: As soon as I hit post, I realized something: not one short story I ever sent to a publisher ever used that wry voice. Iiiiiinteresting.

Edited at 2012-01-24 05:50 pm (UTC)