Just Write It

When you first started writing did you know immediately the kind of book you would write?

People often talk about “finding themselves” and I suppose for many of us it comes down to living an authentic life, and being who we really are without worrying about disappointing those around us.

Writers also need to find out who they are as a writer, what genre they write in, and what their own unique style is.

It wasn’t until I’d been writing short fiction for many years that I began to notice a pattern in my writing. Most of my protagonists were kids, and it felt quite natural to write from a child’s POV. Even so, at that time, I didn’t consider the stories that I was writing were intended for a young audience because they weren’t. The literary magazines that published them didn’t think so either.

Still, I had this strong need to write for kids that didn’t go away. It wasn’t until a writer (one who had just published her first young adult novel) basically told me not to worry about who I was writing the story for that I felt completely free to write. She advised me to simply write it and, once it was written, then decide if it was best told for a young adult audience.

I took her words to heart and shortly afterward began writing Bitter, Sweet. I knew I had a story to tell and I couldn’t allow myself to get caught up in a game of self-doubt. Just write it. Just write the story, my story—those words stuck in my mind.

So what happened to my writing over time?

The best way for me to describe it is to say, I slipped into a time and place that felt so utterly right for me. Right now, I’m particularly happy setting my stories during the first half of the twentieth century. That time is like a welcomed friend, one that I greet with open arms. For me, writing needs to be enjoyable, a safe place for me to explore who I am and where my writing is taking me. It is a place where I can take my characters, explore their feelings, and discover who they are as well. I don’t worry anymore what genre I’m writing in these days because so far as I’m concerned, we do not pick the genre, the genre picks us.

What genre do you write in? Do you agree with my statement that we do not pick the genre, but rather the genre picks us?

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. Oooo, what a great topic! At the moment, I’m find myself playing in all sorts of genres. My completed novel is literary, my new project is YA, and recently I’ve returned to writing poetry. Creativity rarely follows boundaries, so I’ve decided to just go with the flow. My voice is always going to be distinctly mine, no matter where my muse takes me. :-)

    Reply
    • Welcome to my blog! Go with the flow seems to be good advise. I like the idea that you don’t feel the need to stick with one genre. If we indeed “just write” each story might dictate an entirely different genre, then again it may not. As you say, our voice is distinctly our own and that is something that will always be present.

      Reply
  2. Sometimes the genre picks us. It may not even be first or second choice or what we are best at. Depends upon what we can sell. That becomes the genre. It does not mean we stop producing what we like because one door leads to another. I have two publishers for my cartoons and get paid enough for a hamburger but that is a resume. And sooner or latter some one is going to pick up on my cartoons. Blog will be 1 year old on the 31st and I have had 22,000 hits.

    Reply
    • Interesting, Carl. I do agree that one door leads to another, but have never thought in terms of what would sell. I’ve only ever written what I felt compelled to write.

      I think it’s great that you have two publishers for your cartoons.You’re optimistic and that’s something we all need, especially those of us in this business. Hopefully, one day that hamburger will turn into a whole chain of hamburger joints. Keep drawing because we like reading your cartoons.

      Reply
  3. Going with the flow is a good idea. I don’t think I even knew what the subgenres of romance were when I started writing. All I know is that my story was going to have a Happily Ever After.

    Reply
    • I like happy Ever After. :) I sometimes wonder if we don’t complicate things too much. Going with the flow has always felt right to me.

      Reply
  4. I don’t have much writing experience, Laura, but from what I have written lately, I’d say the work chooses; because I didn’t have a clue what I was even going to write.

    Reply
    • Most of us struggle to find out what we’l write in the very beginning. I was set from the start to write for kids but ended up spending years writing short fiction for literary magazine as I worked to find my voice and style. Be patient, Patti. As you keep writing you’ll figure it out. :)

      Reply
  5. I’ve always been fascinated with the darker side of human nature. It may have come from my mother, who loved true crime–and of course I raided her bookshelf and read everything she read, including the classic “Rosemary’s Baby”, and a stash of books by Stephen King that were in a garbage bag in the basement. She said she had no clue where they came from, and it’s true that she wasn’t a horror fan. I, however, became a fan of King’s from the very first book of his I read–Different Seasons, the collection of novellas that includes “The Body” (a.k.a. “Stand By Me”).

    When I was in an accelerated writing class in high school, my instructor/mentor loathed what he termed “Disney-style” endings, and the best way I found to avoid that was to write horror. He called me Stephanie Queen. I was thrilled. I love that, in horror writing, you don’t have to be predictable. You don’t have to have a happy ending. The bad guy can get away, the hero can die. I was determined to write “human horror”, though…to me, the true evil that resides inside ordinary people in a hell of a lot scarier than a haunted car or a rabid dog. Today, I believe they call this genre psychological suspense, and it’s definitely the one that resonates with me, although sometimes I long to write chick lit or children’s books, just to let some light into my brain. :)

    Reply
    • I find it fascinating the way each one of us comes to the page with a totally different mindset. Early influences could definitely cause us to lean toward a certain genre. While I like happy endings or at least a satisfying ending, I’m not sure if I’d like to be left dangling. Perhaps in a short story, but not so much in a novel.

      And you never know, Holli, someday you may write chick lit or children’s books. :)

      Reply
  6. I want to write a children’s book eventually. Right now it seems I’ve got a few thrillers in my head that have to come out. I wish I knew the answers to these questions, and they’re great questions. I have thoughts about life that spark story ideas. I try not to analyze them too closely. And maybe that’s because my writing has become therapeutic. It’s all about understanding why life is as it is. That’s not a very interesting answer, so maybe I need to think about it some more.

    Thanks for asking, Laura.

    Reply
    • I had another question to ask once I read your comment, but wasn’t sure I should ask..;) I found it interesting that you mentioned wanting to write a children’s book. Do you have a story in mind or at this point you know you just want to write one? That would likely fall into you picking the genre wouldn’t it? Oh no, that’s two questions..LOL

      Reply
  7. For starters – I saw your comment on Carol’s blog – I haven’t forgotten & started putting someting together the other night.

    “What genre do you write in? Do you agree with my statement that we do not pick the genre, but rather the genre picks us?”

    I actually answer this question in Monday’s interview.

    This is a great post, Laura. I only started writing 4 years ago (on 7/19/2007 to be exact) so it’s a topic that hasn’t pushed me toward introspection. I think I’ll go jump in the pool & give this some deep thought. Or maybe I’ll just float around & smoke a cigar. (Deb hates when I do that. Hah!) “Talk” to ya soon. D

    Reply
    • I knew you didn’t forget, Dave. I thought perhaps you were dodging the post so to speak..lol

      I’m looking forward to your interview on Carol’s blog. I figure it should be quite interesting and then I’ll get my answer….

      Reply
  8. A very thoughtful post about genre, Laura. I tend to gravitate towards writing for young adults as that voice is so strong in me and comes out easily. I also enjoy writing romance but wouldn’t say I write in that genre. I do like having a touch of romance in some of my stories.

    I also love blogging and writing silly poetry and you know how much I enjoy my Loup blog. Being Loup allows my alter ego to blurt out whatever it wants without worry of being seen as a bad girl because I’m impersonating my bratty Malamute.

    Reply
    • That YA voice is very strong for me as well. I totally understand where you’re coming from, Cathy and hey, there can definitely be romance in YA so you’re all set.

      So now, after all this time, you’re telling me that Loop doesn’t writer his own blog post. Nice.

      Hehehe

      Reply

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