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Who Are You Writing For?

Organizer Jessi Suire and R.L. Stine at the 2017 Jambalaya Writers' Conference

"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.

Bookish little black girls circa 1986

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