I've had a hard time getting any writing done lately, and while I could attribute some of this to my current work schedule, much of the blame lies with my state of mind. I just haven't felt the inclination to produce fiction, and that has caused my work to suffer. Upon reflection, the root of this attitude lies in the fact that I've violated one of my cardinal rules: write for yourself.
To say that my writing career is not as successful as I desire (and once envisioned it would be) is a great understatement. Long ago, when success was lagging, I came to the conclusion that in order to churn out fiction I needed to write what I wanted to write. I could not be concerned with what other people thought of my work. They would either like what I produced, or they wouldn't. This attitude allowed me to produce some of my best works, but recently I seem to have lost sight of this.
Yes, there are those of you out there who really like my stories, but there are obviously many of you who don't. Looking closer to home, most of the people I personally know either don't have an interest in my writing, or really don't like it. This is illustrated by their silence. They are too kind to tell me that my fiction just isn't for them. Truly, the majority of my fan-base is people I have never met, and always will be.
While the West of the Warlock series continues to grow in popularity, it is still a far cry from where I need to be for commercial success, and my delayed fame grates at my ego. I have recently been trying to write stories for other people, thinking of what they might want to read, rather than just writing whatever I will enjoy. Trying to write stories for an audience that doesn't exist (or is statistically insignificant) is a futile endeavor, and is a common cause of writer's block.
Until I find greater success, and have a much larger audience, I cannot allow myself the luxury of writing for others. I need to focus my attention on creating stories that I like to write, or I will be doomed to depression.
I don't bring this up because I wish to lament my own misfortune, but to help other writers who may be suffering the same dilemma. If you don't have a large readership, you cannot be too concerned with what others think of your writing. You must be your most important critic and fan. So long as you enjoy the stories you write, they are worth writing. The day you start making real money from them is the day you can start being concerned with other people's opinions, not before.