I went to lunch with two writers this last Sunday and we talked about....writing. Go figure. One of the Writers, we'll call him Chuck, argued that people should know the market for which they write, and to do this they should read extensively. "You can't write genre if you don't read genre. You should be buying and reading magazines like "Dark Wisdom", "Realms of Fantasy" etc. You should read online magazines and get a sense of the pulse of the genre."
The other writer, we'll call him Rick, argued that writing should rise above that and the writer should seek to elevate rather than fall into the mold. The writer should write from experience and not just distill the experiences of others through their writing.
Me? I sided more with Chuck. I think writers need to read and know their audience. It's why I have been reading a ton of romance over the last four months. It's why I have subscriptions to four or five fiction magazines. I used to write willy nilly, now I only write new stories in response to calls for submissions. And if the story is rejected, then I try sending it around to various markets.
"So what's your criteria?" asked Rick.
"The cool factor. Somewhere in that story there better be something that makes a fan of the genre nod his head and go: "Cool". I can write esoteric meanderings, and sometimes do, but for commercial market there better be something solid there that a reader can connect with.