"Who are you writing for?" is a question that I hear all the time. Usually my answer is my son or my daughter or one or more of my students, but it wasn't until I was invited to do a workshop on finding your voice at the 2017 Jambalaya Writers' Conference that I realized something else: lately I have been writing for myself.
Writing for yourself is kind of a no-no.
As writers, we have to love the stories we're writing, so in a sense every book you write is sort of for yourself. But as a general rule, it is the job editors and writing partners everywhere to remind you that you can't write a book just for yourself or you will run the serious risk of having an audience of one person: you. But as I was preparing for the conference I had to admit that for my last few projects, including Jupiter Storm and my current work in progress, I have been my own ideal reader. Not me, now. Me thirty+ years ago when I already knew how much I loved fantasy stories, yet somehow ended up reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Let the Circle Be Unbroken over and again. They were the only books I could find where a brown skinned girl like me got to have the spotlight. So I kept reading it in between The Hobbit and A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narnia--stories I longed to be in, but wasn't. What me thirty+ years ago wouldn't have given to open one of those classic adventures to discover that the inside looked like me? I have idea. I can't turn back time, but knowing I wasn't the only happily bookish little black girl back then (see photo evidence below) makes me think that we're still around and the stories are still needed today.