I find myself in a bit of a conundrum with my writing right now. Am I lost for topics? Nope. Is there nothing I need to be working on right now? Not at all. Do I lack for inspiration? Are you kidding, I’ve been averaging about 3000 words per day for the last couple of weeks! So what’s the problem?
Well, it all goes back to that old writer’s adage that we should write what we want to write and what we want to read. That’s writer’s gold, isn’t it? If we are interested in what we’re writing then surely readers will pick up on that and find it lively and readable too, right?
Okay, here’s the thing. I’m currently working on two different projects. One is the next book in my Montana Romance series, Fool for Love. It’s fun and I’m enjoying the journey my characters are taking me on. Lots of unexpected stuff coming up. But is that what I want to write right now? Yes and no.
I’m writing something else. And guess what? It might not ever be finished. Furthermore, it might never see the light of publishing day. Why? Because it’s fan fiction of one of my own novels. Yep, I’m spoofing on myself.
Here’s the story.
I’ve got this truly fabulous sci-fi series that I’ve been working on off and on for about five years now. It’s really cool. I just spent November polishing up the first book in the series, Saving Grace. I even gave it to some beta-readers last week. It has serious potential. So much so that I’m toying with the idea of taking it the traditional route for publication in spite of my deep love of all things Indie. We’ll see.
I love the world this series is set in and I’ve put a lot of work into building it. I could probably spend the rest of my life only writing books set in this world. I’ve got generations of characters planned. But a couple of weeks ago, as I was working through revisions of the first book, I found myself saying, “You know, the story would have worked just as well if the heroine had ended up with the anti-hero instead of the hero”.
Well, that was it. I had to write that story. Not surprisingly, it’s called The Other Side of the River. The whole thing is predicated on what would have happened to my heroine if the hero of the original novel didn’t exist. The funny thing is, the story works just as well (although the plot doesn’t have as high stakes). I’d like to think that this means I’ve created a world with enough depth to support more than just one angle of story.
Am I having fun writing my fan fic? YES! And I haven’t entirely dismissed the idea of publishing a parallel version of the story should it come to that. (Has anyone ever done that, by the way? Published an alternative version of the same story? Maybe I’m just being innovative.) But I still have this awkward feeling like I might be wasting time. There are other books I could be writing in series that I’ve already started and published.
So they say you should write what you want to write. How far do we go with that? What kind of a responsibility does a writer have towards their reader? If I’ve started a series and generated interest, do I have an obligation to finish what I’ve started in a timely manner? Keep in mind I don’t have any contracts and I can work with whatever timeline I set.
I definitely plan to have Fool for Love finished, polished, revised, edited, and published by the end of April 2013. And I have set myself a goal of writing a certain humorous historical romance called A Duke and A Pirate before conference season next summer. So it’s not like I’m just spinning my wheels. But man, I really, really want to work on The Other Side of the River right now!
Here’s the catch. We become writers because we love to write. Writing is what moves us and defines us. Once upon a time there was a time when we wrote not to publish, but to entertain ourselves. That’s what I’m doing with this story. I’m having fun. I’m keeping myself engaged with my craft, and it’s a heck of a lot better than watching reality tv.
But where do you draw the line? Once you make the commitment to be a professional, published author, can you go back to doing it just for yourself? Does there come a point in a writer’s career where you aren’t actually writing for yourself anymore, but rather for the readers who have come to love you and your work?
That’s a lot of questions for one blog post and I don’t really have answers for them. I’m interested to hear what other people think. Is anyone else out there writing something extensive and meaty strictly for their own entertainment? Anyone else beginning to feel as though their writing belongs to more than just themselves now that they’re multi-published? Inquiring minds want to know!