On Learning to Write Selfishly
Like most writers, I’m terribly guilty of wanting to appeal to as many people as possible. Of course I do. It feels good to get positive feedback, to know I’m doing something that people enjoy.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been allowing my desire to please my friends and readers has lead to me make changes to future works that have the potential of altering those stories’ narratives. Some of those changes have been for the better. A fellow writer felt I hadn’t included enough of the mobster lifestyle in GBAON, so I decided to make that a more prominent theme in GBAON’s sequel. A friend became attached to Elaine, so i didn’t kill her and also made her a trans woman in honor of my friend’s trans identity. These are good, important changes that I think will make the rest of the GBAON more complex and more compelling.
However, I’ve started feeling hesitant about killing off characters that haven’t even appeared in the series yet because people I talk to about them have already grown attached. And more and more often, I find myself thinking “oh well I can’t do X because this or that person would be unhappy” even though it’s the best thing to do in terms of moving the story forward.
I feel like all of those “How To Be An Author” web pages had a section for dealing with guilt over making choices that won’t make everyone happy because hat guilt has quickly become the biggest hindrance in my ability to move forward with the GBAON series. It fuels this awful cycle of “I need to write” → “But I can’t write it like that or someone might be unhappy” → “I guess I won’t write today” and then right back to step one. I need to break that cycle.
So… if you’ve been one of the few who’s heard anything at all about what’s happening in the next two books in the GBAON series, forget it. I’m changing absolutely everything. No character is safe and nothing is sacred, no matter what I may have said before. After all, these aren’t the readers’ books. They’re mine. And I’m going to do whatever I think is best for the rest of the series.