Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself. – Harlan Ellison
If I were going to take that quote point by point, I’d start with the fact that Ellison has critics who praise him, and I can only hope someday to do likewise.
But that’s not what I want to get at right now. Right now I want to address the latter part, who we write for. When I contemplate actually finishing my vampire story and try to envision boiling it down to a query letter to submit to an agent, I have to admit I am a) stumped for how I’m going to sum it up, and b) more than a little embarrassed about writing a vampire story at all. Yes, I know they’re still selling, but still. It wasn’t like I planned to write a vampire story, this thing wasn’t brewing in the back of mind for ages waiting for me to get to it. It popped up out of nowhere, or as Ray Bradbury might say, it ran up and bit me on the leg. It still hasn’t let go.
And yet I can’t imagine not having written it. I’ve written it more to please myself, to enjoy the process and my characters. I really do love them. I’d have them in my life for real if it was possible. I can have whole conversations with Andrej in my mind, which I guess is good, if a little psychotic. I wonder how many other writers feel that way about their characters? Weigh in, folks.
And now that we’ve all got that old Ricky Nelson song stuck in our heads…