June Recap: You win some, you lose some…

Ah, here we are again. Another monthly recap. June wasn’t too bad. There were some awesome highs and discouraging lows.

Writing: In total, I wrote 13,779 words in June. I’m disappointed in that number, but I’m trying to stay positive. As you may already know, I finished my first draft of The Travelers early in the month. I read it on my Kindle and decided to ignore it for awhile. I have every intention of going back and editing it… eventually. Right now, the task seems daunting, and so I’m just acting like it will fix itself.

After I finished The Travelers, I just stopped writing for a little while. Part of it was because I was reading my own projects (as well as many novels; see below). I was disappointed in myself for not pushing through and writing something every day.

On the positive side, the remainder of those words went to two separate projects. One of which is a weird science fiction story that I imagine will be only a short story or novella that is heavily influenced by Philip K. Dick. The other is my Camp NaNoWriMo project, which I started a couple days earlier. It’s a horror novel about the occult, sort of, but it’s really about the choices we make and the things we’ll do for the people we love.

Reading: I READ SO MANY BOOKS IN JUNE. Well, 10, to be exact. That’s pretty good for one month. I’m up to Book #50 on my GoodReads challenge of reading 100 books in the year. At this pace, I should be able to meet my goal. I just started The Maze Runner and Ready Player One, both of which I’m enjoying.

Oh, but I did make one crucial decision. After The Maze Runner, no more YA books for awhile. I just can’t do it. I can’t get into them, and sometimes, they frustrate me, even if they are good books.

Still haven’t finished Anna Karenina.

Other: I saw Jurassic World and Terminator: Genisys at the theater. I loved Jurassic World, despite the somewhat silly plot and the terrible character development. I liked (but did not love) Terminator: Genisys, despite the time travel wonkiness and Emilia Clarke’s terrible version of Sarah Connor (sorry, not sorry). Still haven’t finished Daredevil on Netflix.

Bring on July!

Noooo, not Hannibal!

I was so bummed to find out yesterday that NBC is cancelling Hannibal after three seasons. I love that show – perhaps an unhealthy amount. It’s such a great show because it’s the perfect combination of substance and style. Hannibal pulled off things that I had never seen on network television before, and they did it with such lovely art direction. It’s dark, gruesome, and lovely. But beyond just the style of the show, the showrunners were excellent storytellers. They managed to weave elements of surrealism and horror into what is, essentially, a crime show. Their version of Hannibal Lecter is just as delightful as the versions in the books and films. Also, the acting–I mean, come on–Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson–that’s a cast of fantastic actors.

I’m really hoping that it gets picked up by some other service. I can’t even imagine how gruesome this show could be if it was on Netflix or something similar. I know that the darkness of this show isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of horror, and you haven’t watched Hannibal, you’re really missing out. The first two seasons are available now on Amazon Prime, and the third season is currently airing on NBC.

Are you writing for yourself or for your audience?

A writer is faced with an interesting division as she crafts her story. Who are you writing this for? Are you writing for yourself, or are you writing for your audience? The answer is always some mixture of both, but it can be a struggle to keep your goals clear in your mind.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of The Walking Dead and other big television fandoms. The more fans get invested in a piece of entertainment, the more they feel like they should have a say in what happens. I listen to a podcast called The X-Files Files, where host Kumail Nanjiani and guest hosts break down episodes of The X-Files. Nanjiani has brought this point up within the context of X-Files and later shows that had big fan involvement, like Lost–at a certain point, do fans become too entitled? Can and should fans ever actually have a say in what happens in the show, simply because of the volume of their voices?

For example (and I think Nanjiani used this example as well), there is a lot of speculation that Daryl might die on this season’s finale of The Walking Dead. To say that fans would freak out is an understatement. (See here) But should that be enough to affect what the writers do? If killing Daryl (or Rick, Michonne, Carol, or anyone) furthers the plot and gets the story to its next point, should the writers and showrunners be beholden to the fans?

Though most novel writers, especially first-time and/or indie writers, don’t have the same large-scale, loud audience that these shows do, it’s still a consideration we need to make while writing. Should you kill that main character, even though you’ve created someone your reader will love? Should you wrap everything up neatly at the end because you’re worried that a reader won’t like the ambiguity?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, because I don’t think there really are firm answers. Sometimes, you need to write the story that you want to write and trust that your readers will follow you and understand. That being said, I try to keep in the back of my head what I, as a reader, would think of a new development in a story. There’s an old saying that you should write the story that you want to read, and there’s definitely some truth to that. But you’re not every reader. You’re just one reader. If you want to reach tens, hundreds, or thousands of people, keep in mind that (1) what you would enjoy as a reader is not what everyone else will enjoy, but (2) you can’t please everyone. Not everyone will love your protagonist, nor will everyone support your main characters’ romance, or the twist at the end that you thought was clever. The question is: will most readers support what I do with these characters?

How do you balance the scales between writing for yourself and for the audience as you’re crafting a story?