Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Write From The Heart or For The Market?

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

“What’s the point of writing a book if it’s just going to sit in your desk drawer?” Mary Sue Seymour asked us several times during the Susquehanna Valley Writer’s Workshop. I didn’t volunteer an answer at the time because it’s a complicated issue with arguments for both sides.

For instance, Dean Koontz writes in On Popular Fiction that a professional writer writes for the market. There was a point in his career when the ‘SciFi’ market took a down turn. Although Koontz “simply did not like Gothic novels” he wrote one successfully. His point was that a professional writer writes what sells. It’s a valid point; however, I personally think that ‘Gothic’ is not too far from the style of Koontz’s regular work, and therefore, I’m not completely convinced that a good writer can or should write in any genre.

First of all, I believe a good book is written with passion and if the writer is not passionate about her work, the book is going to reflect it. I also believe that the market is constantly in flux. Trying to write for the market is like a dog chasing its tail. If I research today what publishers are desperately seeking and set out to write that book, by the time it’s finished, there’s a good chance the publishers have changed their minds.

Die-hard fans of mysteries and thrillers aren’t going to suddenly stop reading them. Like I said in my post last week, love of mystery and suspense is deep in my bones. I’ve not been swayed by the current popularity of the fantasy genre and I have to believe there are other suspense lovers like me out there who crave edge-of-your-seat thrills and mysteries.

I’m not saying I’ll never write a Christian Romance. Actually, during a run last week I was hit with a promising premise for an Amish Romance and I may see where it takes me, but only after I finish the book of my heart - a supernatural suspense.

What side of the fence are you on? Do you write what sells or do you write what you love?


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  2. As a Christian woman who ADORES (I mean, REALLY adores) young adult fiction, I found I don't have a single interest to be a "Christian Romance" author. Perhaps because I've attempted to read books by Christian romance authors and they didn't seem realistic and authentic to me. So I'm not a fan them. Just as I'm not a fan of Kirk Cameron's films where he always seems to have some preaching monologue about sins and accepting Jesus. Which might be great for some, it's just not my cup of tea.

    My personal thoughts towards writing started with C.S Lewis's Narnia series. How he was able to point to Christ and not quote a single scripture fascinated me.

    So when I began writing paranormal stories for teens knowing I could write about people I knew of who were real and didn't fit into the perfect Christian plexiglass box. I mean, when you think about it, who is a perfect Christian? No one. We all continue to stumble our way through life even after we've accepted Christ. And the bible says we all fall short of the glory of God.

    I think that's why stories of imperfect people sell. They want to read about a hero(/ine) who falls short in life just as they do.

    Good post! :)

  3. My Nanowrimo book is a Christian Romance... well, a YA Christian Romance. I doubt there is much of a market, but that's ok. My 'hero' isn't a perfect Christian either lol.

    I think that if you want to make a living writing, then yes you should write what sells. If you want to do it as a hobby or as a passion (that hopefully gets picked up by someone along the way), then write what you want.

  4. Is there any other way to express passion other than doing what we love? The minute I shift my attention to expectations, popularity, fads, critiques or any other source but my heart, I freeze and something delightful becomes repulsive. Here's to the artists--writers, painters, dancers, singers, actors, cooks, and even homemakers, who do what they love because they love what they do.