Do you really want to know? Those who are not writers would expect to find insightful prose, sinister plots, and devious characters swimming around the cerebellum; and that could be the case. But most of the time, there is the constant cyclical question of “Is this good enough?” Don’t get me wrong, I have thick skin and it’s pretty hard to hurt my feelings. But when it comes to my writing, well that’s a different story. It took an entire log of convincing and positive Amazon reviews for me to believe that people actually enjoyed my work. As writer, I can be so involved in my own story that I feel like I am writing it for an audience of one – me. So when I poke my head out of my tortoise shell, I often wonder if others will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Take Breathe for Me, for instance, a story that resonated with thousands of people. Yet, the one comment I remember to this day is the one that said, “Whitmire squandered the opportunity.” Even though all other readers rated the book 4.5 to 5 stars, this one negative review gave way to doubt that crept into my Medulla Oblongata and stayed with me, even as I wrote the sequel.
What other thoughts are roaming around my noggin?
- Will this be the break-out book?
- Will I be sitting on Oprah’s couch one day talking about when I used to blog about meeting her?
- What can I put in this story that people will connect with?
Without a doubt, my driving force is to create quality books that readers can relate to. My mind often goes back to my readers while I’m writing. At the end of each chapter, I ask myself what I can add that will prevent them from placing their bookmark in the crease and closing the book for the night. One reader told me the reason she was tired at work was because she stayed up after midnight, unable to put the book down. Success! That is exactly what I want.
So yes, I love to come up with wonderful, provocative characters that make you pull your hair out or cause you to fan yourself because they’re just so all-that; but honestly, that is not what really consumes me. Make it better, I tell myself. Add more emotion. Make them tear up or laugh out loud. That is my goal. How do I know when I’ve reached it? When I reread my own stories and experience those same emotions.