“I can’t change the preconceived notions a reader brings to a work, but I can do my best to be aware of, address, and subvert tropes and expectations that readers may have as best I can and hope I don’t screw it up too much.” — Kameron Hurley
You might have already written a few stories, or a hundred. You probably have some idea of what your goals as a writer are, and why they matter to you. You may be somewhat familiar with the fiction world, or you may have already published some stories. In the end, only you can make your writing goals a reality. Workshops, critique groups, and writing advice books can be useful tools. But Only you can write the story you want to write.
Love what you write, write what you love.
Luckily, readers want to read unique voices. The process of finding who you are as a writer is ongoing and may shift.
But the value is that readers respond to writers that they can recognize. This is why so many readers will buy a book from an author they love without having read anything about that book. They know they like the author and that the book will be enjoyable.
It’s why readers return to the pages of magazines like The New Yorker or Clarkesworld again and again. They expect the magazines to be filled with high-quality writing of a type they recognize and enjoy. It’s also the reason why certain authors tend to be published in short fiction again and again.
Editors recognize that their work is loved by readers. (I will caveat this that I do believe there is a kind of sameness among short fiction that this method of republishing the same people over and over engenders, but that’s a different point.)