If anything keeps me working to do my best, it's the knowledge that a woman out there paid five or six dollars to buy my book. Today, that could be a considerable percentage of her disposable income. She's counting on me to provide her with several hours of fantasy, of a world where the heroine gets a wonderful man who loves her for who she is and helps her to live her dreams.
This woman is smart, so I try hard to be accurate in my details because she'll know if I'm wrong. If I shortchange the romance, skip feelings that are too hard to describe, leave out a detail I can't verify, or run toward the ending without a satisfying unwinding of plot elements because I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, she'll know. She might even call me on it.
I believe if you try faithfully to give your reader what she wants in the most honest way possible, you develop a relationship that transcends the georgraphical distance between you, the fact that you may never see each other, and that most of your contact is enjoyed only between the covers of a book - or, now, in a little corner of cyberspace.
Sometimes, you do get lucky enough to meet at autograph parties or at conferences. A woman once came to an autograph party here in Astoria specifically to tell me that after her husband died, she moved here because I'd written about it. She liked the notion of living on a beautiful hillside that rolls down to the river, and that it sounded friendly and she needed that in her life. (No pressure there!)
Despite all the agonies that accompany writing, that kind of a moment makes it all worth while. As we discussed in Roz's post, most of us will never be wealthy. But we can take our coin in the friendships we make along the way with the women who read our books and share our love of romance.