My friend Kasie West has this quote on her blog:
If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. – Toni Morrison
How-to-write books will tell you to write what you read, and of course, you should. But if you’re committed to writing a long work, a novel, or certainly if you envision a series, Morrison’s advice supersedes that. You have to write what you want to read, otherwise you won’t want to write it, you won’t enjoy writing it, and you probably won’t finish writing it.
I’ve discovered there are a lot—I mean a lot—of you out there writing young adult or middle grade books. And among these YA/MG writers, it seems fantasy is the genre of choice. Now, I believe in fairies, dragons, and magic realms (why not?) but I don’t want to write about them. Neither do I want to write complicated, detailed Sci-Fi/Adult Fantasy novels. Not my thing, and I’d be terrible at it.
I’m not an expert on anything, I don’t have the latest and greatest anything to sell, and I’m certainly not famous—or even infamous—so non-fiction is out, too. My wit doesn’t always translate, so I won’t be writing the next humor best-seller either. I do have a dark side, and have written horror, but that’s not what I want to read now.
I want to read quiet tales of everyday people making their way through life. So that’s what I’m writing … or that’s what I was writing until two days ago when I got sidetracked worrying that the way I intended to end my story wasn’t “good enough” wasn’t “the right way” wasn’t what “they” would like.
But today, I remembered that I’m writing this story for me and, quoting Hamlet for the second time this week,
This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. — William Shakespeare
[Painting credit: “Midsummer Eve” by Edward Robert Hughes]