On Realizing You Can’t Please Everyone

I want every single person to love every single word I write. It’s just what I want. Why is that too much to ask for?

Haha, self. Haha.

I have read NYT Bestsellers that I did not enjoy.

I have read universally panned books that I loved.

There is a reason there are so many genres – there are a lot of different tastes. And tastes even evolve. I used to devour YA Fantasy. Over the past year, I’ve been all about YA Contemporary. When I was in college, I was all about Historical Romance. And I freely filter in and out of Adult fiction.

But you throw Horror at me? That’s a hell no.

Nonfiction? Rarely for me.

And that’s just genres. That’s not even publishing trends. Vampires, dystopian, magic. Those all fall within Fantasy, so even if you typically love Fantasy novels, maybe you don’t like vampires. Maybe you typically love Contemporary novels, but you have a hard time relating to male protagonists. There is so much that comes down to personal taste.

I do not love every word ever written, and so, the logical side of me is aware that not every person will love everything I write. It’s madness to even hope for it.

But there is something so unaccountably personal about writing that it is difficult to accept when someone does not like it. It’s a short skip and a jump from that to them not liking me, or at least that’s how it feels.

So much of writing and publishing is an exercise in letting go. I can control the words I put on the page. I can control what I ultimately want to do with those words – shred them or share them? Beyond that… I have to let go. If I worry too much about pleasing everyone, I lose track of the story I’m trying to tell. I become uncertain about my characters, trying to mold them into someone else, trying to manufacture decisions that they would not make.

And I am miserable.

When I started writing Book 5, I tried to write what I thought I should write instead of what I wanted to write, and it resulted in the aforementioned misery. I couldn’t relate to the characters. It was bumpy and unpleasant and writing became a chore. It wasn’t until I stepped back and realized what I was doing that I was able to rework the plot into something I believe in, something I’m excited to explore.

I am unabashedly proud of the four books I have written. Two of them, you will read. (One you may have read already!) The other two, who knows. But I can honestly say that all four of them are the stories I wanted to tell. I can bear other people’s opinions of them because I stand behind them so fully.

“If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready.'”

– David Mitchell

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