I'm a writer. My #1 rule has ALWAYS been to write from the heart. That said, I'm working on Shadow Wishes, the sequel to Amaretto Flame, and I've found myself second guessing, pushing it off to the side, pulling my hair out, and nearly going nuts trying to get this thing completed. Why? What is making it so difficult...and then I realized my mistake.
Amaretto Flame is the very first time my work has been read on a widespread basis, meaning not just family and friends. I am thrilled at the response I've gotten, but I've had my fair share of critics, too. That's expected, and to be honest, I've craved criticism, believing it will make me a better writer. If I know what you hated, and what my downfalls were, I can work on those things in the next book, right? To a certain extent, yes. But I've found myself dwelling on every critical comment regarding my work and then going into the sequel with those things in my heart.
I finally realized I can't do that! I have to write what's in my heart to write, and go where the characters lead me. I can't stop in the middle of a scene and think about someone who particularly hated the same kind of scene in Amaretto Flame. Yes, I want everyone to love it...I want to deliver exactly what people want to read. But here's my reality check: I'm not going to be able to do that! There's no way everyone's going to like every single part. There's no way to write something that EVERYONE will love. So, I have to take it back in and write something that I love.
I think in doing this, I'll capture the same things I was able to capture in Amaretto Flame - the things so many other people loved. This is just a small realization I had, and wanted to pass along to others who might be struggling with the same thing. We all know we're supposed to be writing things we love...things we feel deeply about. But when you're reading all the comments on your work and then you're holding on to those things, are you really continuing to write what's in your heart, without second guessing yourself? That's my new game plan. I'm going back to the word doc with only one thing in mind - write what I love. :)