Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

standing in abandoned city looking at a magic gate, digital art style, illustration painting

This feels like an important question to answer. I have to start with the latter: what drives me is giving readers an experience they love to fall into and live in. That’s why I take such care to create scenes that feel real. I love literary work but my reading home is books in which I live with the main character.

I didn’t demand that through my teens. I don’t think I found books whose characters moved me in a way I could project onto, acting as avatar, imagining they could be me. It wasn’t until my 20s that I found such authors and literature.

Yet, I hope that as I craft my stories, without thought for what would be successful, what can gain me fame or fortune, that I do hew fiction that is original. I don’t think pleasing readers, and writing to do so, reduces originality; instead, I think being commercial, formulaic, aiming for success, fame, wealth–that’s where one is likely to compromise originality.

The funny think is, not all readers are seeking specifically originality. Some want endless amounts of whatever it is that pleases them, takes them into the world they want to be in. They might not might endless twists on a basic theme.

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where getting credit for uniqueness is all a writer values or craves. That person cares little if they bring joy or escape or satisfaction to a reader. Sometimes they’re well matched by readers who only want to find the most outlandish of creations, who might even want a reputation based on their rarified taste. Such authors might claim to have no interest in wealth, and it might be true.

Luckily, there are all different readers and all different writers. What I would like most is to fulfill a niche for some readers, in unique compelling settings, with dynamic and likable (or hatable) characters, that I will carry them somewhere–deliver what they want, with originality.

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