...I’ll issue the warning of long experience to those aspiring authors who think the best thing about writing is the reader reaction. You are playing with cocaine there. Because once you get hooked on it, you will find it’s got YOU by the tail.
Aspiring authors? I know a boatload of published authors who, from the sound of things, are writing primarily to be adored by their readers. They actually say things like, "Look at this great fan letter I received. This is what makes it all worthwhile."
I always cringe when I hear that and privately hope reader adulation isn't really the reason those people are writing romance novels. Sure, it's wonderful to hear that the story you worked so hard on has touched your readers' hearts. But anyone who's writing primarily to be admired as a writer is missing out on a lot of joy, I think.
Many authors never read their books after the books are published. But I read mine, and not just once or twice. I bet I've read my first book, Finding Hope, at least six times. Yes, cover to cover--after it was published. Why? Because my greatest satisfaction in writing comes from my reaction to what I've written. I'm like Joan Wilder in the opening scene of Romancing the Stone. My own writing tickles me.
To reread one of my published books is to relive the satisfaction of writing it; to recall the jolt of joy I felt the afternoon I made up that killer-funny scene at the awards dinner in Finding Hope or to revisit the day I was struck by the notion that giving the beleaguered heroine of A Family Forever a miscarriage would send her into an emotional tailspin that would make that story. Every chapter and every scene in my finished books is a reminder of the challenges I faced and overcame during the writing process.
Sure, I'm gratified when readers say something I've written has touched their hearts or made them think or even Changed Their Lives (inspirational romance writers get that one a lot). But all that is icing, not cake; and I am writing for the cake. I relish the challenge of overcoming one obstacle after another, moving relentlessly forward until I have created a story that pleases me.
Maybe my author friends don't actually believe their writing is only worthwhile if other people like it. I hope they don't believe that because if they do, they're missing out on some seriously huge thrills in their writing lives.