A popular post from November 2008
They all say it. Agents, editors, librarians, even readers. They chant it like a mantra, "I want the hot new thing."
Sadly, no one knows what the hot new thing is. Hot and new are totally subjective. This will be a short post today because I am working on a manuscript that has a deadline and I'm doing an edit. Throw in a Thanksgiving holiday where family members expect me to be present and pleasant and I'm rendered incapable of writing a long brilliant post about anything.
But short doesn't always equate to bad information, so bear with me. I've been to several conferences over the last several months. I've met lots of people who represent all ends of the literary spectrum, and my message today is to Write What Your Passionate About.
Forget the hot new thing. Forget the trends, and write what gives you the greatest pleasure. I sat in on a librarian panel where they talked about what they were currently stocking on their shelves. They talked about Gothic stuff, vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches, etc. They talked about books they wish they had on their shelves, from non fiction stories on Native Americans to stories that delve into various sciences.
The writers in the room scribbled furiously, taking notes on all the new possibilities of books they could write about.
But let's look at this logically: If you write a vampire story now in order to "catch that wave" it might take you six months to finish the book, another six (being moderate here) to find an agent and or publisher, and then another year (again, being moderate) to finally see it being stocked on bookstore shelves. Two years . . . . That's a long time. Will that wave still be here?
Maybe. Vampires were big for Anne Rice too. But here's the question you have to ask yourself, do you really like vampire stories? Are you writing it because it's the hot new thing? Or are you writing it because you want to be published and you're catering to a market want?
I have no problem with pandering to the public. I'm just shallow like that, but I do have a problem with writing what I'm not really excited about. I found I can pander and be excited over what I'm writing at the same time. So I choose wisely where I will pander. There are things I know I could write and get published, but I won't go anywhere near those topics because they aren't my thing. If I don't love my topic, characters, plot . . . every word I write will feel like I'm digging slivers out of my skin.
One of those writers said, "I could write a book on Native Americans. If the market needs it, then it'll be easier to get it published."
"Do you know anything about Native Americans?" I asked.
"Well no, but I saw the movie Last of the Mohicans."
Another woman had actually minored in Native American studies and was delighted that she might be able to write on a topic she loved. It had never occurred to her to write on this topic before and she was so excited to get started, she looked like a puppy who just figured out he had a tail to wag.
That's the difference. Are you writing because it's the hot new thing? Or are you writing because you love it?
You gotta love it, baby. Your readers will know the difference. If you don't love what you're writing about, if it does not fill you with fascination and joy, it won't matter if it is the hot new thing, it'll be fraudulent. Don't cheat yourselves by following the trends. Write the books you love, the ones you want to read, become your own hot new thing.