What went through your mind the first time you put pen to paper, or set the cursor on your screen dancing as the words flowed into your fingertips? Did you feel the kind of nervous excitement after finishing a carefully crafted plot arc that could only be likened to your very first date? Have you ever shed tears while daydreaming or plotting the scene where one of the characters you created dies? These questions are all about an emotional response triggered from the act of writing. What we're talking about here, then, is really passion for the craft. Whether your passion for writing burns like a smoldering flame or like a bonfire, it's personal and unique to every writer. Yet, fire can be contained, directed and re-directed, just like any tool. So, if we aren't careful, we end up molding our passion to suit the needs/wants of our readers, our publishers (for those going the small publisher or legacy route), our time commitments (read: constraints), etc.
None of this is to say that the writer shouldn't be mindful of his or her audience. Quite the opposite. Like stage directors running a full company of actors, orchestra, and stage hands, writers absolutely must play to the readers/audience. That comes down to understanding their needs versus wants: give them what they need, but tease them with what they want. Through it all, however, you have to let them see your passion for writing. That's why they came in the first place to see the theater that is your book. Whether the story is a critically acclaimed success, hardly noticed among the crowd, or belittled by the curmudgeons: there are bound to be those who are intrigued by the passion and fire you've injected into your tale.
That's what writing is for me. It's about following the desire to create something from nothing and then turning that into a tale that I hope entertains, educates, and engages the reader. It's impossible to write something that will please every single reader in the exact same way. Attempting to do so waters down the experience of whatever it is I'm trying to create. Strangely enough, I actually do believe that constructive negative feedback, serves several purposes. One, it reinforces my point above that you can't write something that will please everyone. Two, it likely may give me food for thought on things I hadn't considered or another viewpoint for analyzing whatever the topic may be (i.e. story arc, character development, etc.). And three, it just stokes my fire to get me back to brainstorming, outlining, planning and writing.
What is writing for you? Just as important, what does it do for you?