We write for ourselves. First and foremost.
If you started to write for someone else, I'd worry, as you should.
We write to please ourselves, because, and it's true, you can't please everyone.
Bottom line; you try to write the kind of stories that YOU want to read, that you have been looking for, that make you go 'Finally, that's what I want to hear, or read, or whatever...'
When I write, a multitude of people cycle through my head.
My publisher, my friends, my wife, my mother and father. Recently I've realised that although an idea may spring fully formed from MY head, I may end up the last person I consult when I write.
Let me explain.
I get a good idea, on some nights, a GREAT idea.
Now this idea may flourish all by itself or it may need a little gestating. Some stories write themselves, others you have to drag kicking and screaming to the page.
So I start with a great idea, but no less than four paragraphs in, I hit a crossroads. I can go dark, down the safe road I know I am capable of travelling alone. I can flip side and go comedy, a turn post no one saw coming and may be all the more sweet for it. I can go romantic and anxiously try to avoid the pot holes that romantic vampire literature has to side step these dangerous days. I can go 'David Lynch' and twist it into something that has so many levels it would make a lesser readers' head spin.
And on and on and on.....
And I am only four paragraphs in!
So am I writing for me, or my potential audience?
Sometimes, most often, I tend to throw caution to the wind and say fuck it, it was my idea, I'll dance with the devil by the pale moonlight (thank you Jack Nicholson; copyright Batman 1989)
But recently I do question who will be reading this piece? Will I alienate my readers by going too far? And most importantly, will I alienate my readers by not going far enough?
I want to write dark stuff, I always have, but, as I have learned from films like Hostel, which concepts have scared me beyond the realms of my own imagination (not the film itself, that sucks), you CAN go too far.
When I drink and write, I always want to go further. It takes my sober mind to advise caution; is this RIGHT for the story?
I ask myself this question right now as I pen the seventh story in what will become part of a collection of twelve stories that will eventually become my follow up to my debut 'Swan Song' and it's a big question.
Am I going too far?
Or am I not going far enough?
To Shock Or Not To Shock?
It's a tricky one...