I’ve just run across another writer who claims that “…I write for myself…”, and yet puts his work out for others to read. AND he takes offense when someone finds the work weak, derivative or lacking in any way.
I actually think I’ve got it figured out now. An “…I write for myself…” person is hedging bets. Making such a claim—it would appear—is a way to keep from committing your work fully. You can always fall back and say, “I write for myself, not for you”, or “I write to please myself, not you.”
If it is only for you, why do you put it up on a public forum?
Make no mistake, there is absolutely nothing wrong with writing for yourself. In fact, there is a name for it. It is called Journal or Diary writing, and if it is truly for yourself, it should be kept that way.
I admit some people who say they write for themselves are competent writers, but I still don’t understand why, given their stand, they would post their work.
Maybe they’re missing the point. Maybe I am.
The writers I know who have taken their craft public, and do not hedge their bets, are those who care about the reader. They are writers for whom the reader is more than an unnamed person out in booksville. For them the reader is actually like a character in the novel or story. It is how they reach their audience. It is how they involve the reader so deeply in the story that the reader forms the third leg of a the tripod of Imagination and skill: audience.
Go ahead. Get your torches and pitchforks. Call out the guard. I can take it.
Do not claim to be a novelist and claim to write for yourself. That is insincere and cowardly. Instead, step up, ask for review, ask for a critique, and have the courage to face what people say. It is, frankly, the only way I know to improve your work.