Myth #1: Write what you want to read.
Is this a myth? I can't imagine writing something you didn't want to read, but still, every website, every book, every article written on writing instructs you to write the story that is unique to you. Tell it in your own voice and write something new and original that only you as author could write.
There are two things that factor into this. Firstly, the written world is filled with copycats and knock-offs. There is no original idea under the sun (http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html). It's all a reworking of Homer in some form or another, which is completely fine as long as you can bring something new, fresh or original to the mix. In fact, we love that, when a story comes out and you KNOW how its going to go, but you just love going along for the ride. We've all had experiences in the movie theatre when we say "That was great, but that's not how it should have ended..." It's a subconscious desire to have plots and characters go the way 'they should.' It's a satisfying thing, regardless of artistic merit.
But the second thing that I'm realizing is the fact that agents and publishers don't really want completely original or fresh or unique, because it might not sell. Books are a commodity, like TV, like fast food, like clothing and that is the stumbling block for many writers. Writing is an art, but publishing is a business and we authors stumble and grumble over the 'business' of writing, because we perceive it to be dehumanizing to the craft. It may very well be, but that's the nature of the marketplace. If you're selling something, you need people to buy it. End of story.
And thirdly, agents, editors and publishers will tell you that you need to know your audience. Who are you writing this to? Is it YA? Is it women? Is it MG? But as an author, you say 'Hey, I thought I was writing omething I would want to read, therefore aren't I, in fact, writing for ME?' An audience of three. Me, myself and I. I'm learning that while I may actually write for myself, the business of publishing is selling that to others. Who are those others, that might actually be interested in reading what you wrote for yourself? We have facebook for that, right?
Anyway, that is MYTH #1. Is it a myth? Does it hold true in today's marketplace? I'd love to hear your thoughts about this highly personal subject.