You Can’t Please Everyone, so…


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
That's me, the lone tree standing around in the field, fogged in


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…

You’re welcome.

12 thoughts on “You Can’t Please Everyone, so…

  1. Now I’ve never gotten nearly as far w/my ficition as you have, DD, but a few months ago I let Rosie read what I did for NaNoWriMo last year, and asked her just to tell me, basically, if she gave a damn what would happen to these characters. Now granted she’s one of my oldest and dearest friends and that’s why I let her read the thing in the first place, but my point is, girlfriend responded with the cutest unsolicited “jacket blurb” that really did sort of sum up my story, such as it is, better than I could. Is there anyone, DD, whom you trust enough to read your draft, with the understanding you don’t need an editor, just an educated reader who can “sum up your thesis,” as I say to my students? I know it’s nervewracking, but hell, if you want lots of people to read it, you need to start with one.


    1. I’m still working on revisions so I don’t think it’s ready for anyone to read the full thing yet (unless you’re some kind of masochist). 😉 But yeah, when the time comes I’ll put out a call for volunteers. I’m going to want to have people beta-read it for me, like you guys did with my little short story awhile back.

      I think it might even be easier to let strangers read it than friends if it ever gets as far as publication. I know in advance no matter what the final version turns out like there will be people who will not only not like it, they will just plain hate it. I just hope that won’t be everyone!


  2. p.s.

    I’ve barely produced 2 chapters, and I consider the characters practically family. I sort of think of them as “the relatives who live in my head,” and yah, that definitely IS psychotic, but you know:
    “Deviant Behavior Bar & Grill – we never close…”


  3. I know what you mean. I keep thinking no one else is going to care about this story as much as I do, but I still have to write it. If I don’t, they will just keep nagging me in my mind. 🙂
    I know there has been a run on vampire stories lately, but it is one of our oldest themes of literature. Its one of those stories that seems to go through popularity cycles. Vampires never really die.


  4. YES! Exactly! I love my characters, but will anyone else? And yet, all we can do is write it the way we feel it, write what we love. If we care that much, surely it will show in our writing, and someone somewhere will feel it, too, don’t you think?

    True about the vamps, too. The movie I just watched, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, is from 1973 (Hammer film). Hardly the first vampire flick, and back then they were cranking them out like nuts to fill a demand for the genre. And here we are, nearly 40 years later, still producing movies, tv series, books, all about vampires. Well, that’s good for me I guess 😉


  5. That’s a pretty good quote from Ellison. Another one I love, and try to keep in the front of my mind, is one from Ben Browder from Farscape: “If you try to please all the people all the time, you end up with mediocracity.”


  6. Well, incredibly, I haven’t really seen many vampire flicks. However, since I finished reading “Let the Right One In” I finally watched the movie (I bought it ages ago, but wouldn’t watch it until I’d read the book first). This will be a ‘no spoiler’ review 😉 It’s probably the least romanticized vision of vampires ever. I liked that about it, I’d say it’s the closest depiction to reality possible of what life would be like as a vampire in modern society. It’s grim, disturbing, horrific, even though they left out some really graphic scenes that were in the book. Despite all that, Eli (the vampire) is not an unsympathetic character. You feel for her, and wonder how she’s going to continue to survive.

    Last night I watched “The Satanic Rites of Dracula”, an old Hammer film from 1973 with the usual suspects: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and a very young Joanna Lumley (of “Absolutely Fabulous” fame)! Parts of it were quite good, and some of it was as cheesy as you’d expect 😉 There’s a scene where Peter Cushing is loading a gun with a silver bullet, and the music for that scene was surprisingly beautiful, in contrast to most of the rest of the score. Very odd.


  7. Do you plan to see the American remake, “Let Me In”? I have sort of half an eye on it – the reviews were mixed but generally respectful.


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