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Who are we writing for? (issue #6 of a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
This is not an existential question, I swear. But it is a question that deserves some honest soul-searching answers.

The first time I wrote an actual story start to finish I know I wrote it for me. I wrote a story I wanted to read but couldn’t find. I wrote a story that featured a hero who was young and Indian and nerdy and unpopular.
By the time I was writing stories for money as a journalist, I was writing them for an audience identified by my editors. Every agent I’ve had (all two ; ) has tried to push my writing into meeting the zeitgeist at its height - most memorably when 50 Shades of Grey broke big and an agent tried to convince me to turn my Portia Adams series into a sexy-soft porn of the 1930s.
I can honestly say that I’ve had little to no success chasing the viral trend of the moment. It felt unnatural, it made my writing stale, boring and hard to write and most of all, it made me not want to write at all.
What happens when you write for yourself?
There’s a couple ways to think about this question:
  1. If you’re writing for yourself, you’re more likely to write something you’re passionate about - expressing a concept or a storyline that lies within the thing that makes you YOU. Not only are you better able to sell these stories (because they are a part of you, and you know them so well). It will be easier to market them to your audience, to talk them up to conferences and panels, everything will get a bit easier.
  2. If you’re writing for the reader who is you, I guarantee that reader exists. Like the first stories I wrote about a 5’ Indian superhero, those people like you need to read stories about people like them/you/us. Yes, it will be harder to convince some publishers and agents that people like you (and readers like you) are valuable, but isn’t that a fight we want to take on?
So this is where I have landed, I write and pitch stories that I want to see out in the world, that I as a reader and as a creator feel passionately about… and then I hope a kind editor agrees with me ; )
So far, this has worked. Let me know if it’s worked for you too.
Next time: the problem with perfection
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Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Digital Director @TheWalrus, journalist, fiction author, instructor @RyersonU and nerdy Kashmiri Canadian. Opinions are my own.

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