For years I have struggled with trying to find a place where I fit in. Somewhere in all these genres that I felt I belonged. Was I a horror writer? A fantasy author? A romance spinner?
Year after year these have rolled around in my head. Countless blogs I’ve read on, write what you read, write what you’re interested in, or even write what you know. These seem to be extremely generalized words of advice. While they make sense for the person who wrote them all, as a reader in search of knowledge…they did nothing but leave me more confused.
Let me explain. If we go by the first, write what you read. That seems pretty easy, right? Well, for some of us it simply isn’t. Not if you take it at face value. Write what you read, they say. As a reader I consume such a wide scope of tastes, from nonfiction, biographical, historical, and self help to even the other side of the realm in fiction. I read YA in every subgenre, fantasy, horror, mysteries, romance, and the list goes on and on. I’ve never been a particularly picky reader when it comes to genres.
So, write what you read seemed like far fetched and confusing advice. I mean, as a reader of so many things and rather eclectic in my tastes, what did that mean I should be writing? Around and around I went on different genres. Should I write here, or here, or here. I’m currently reading fantasy, but just a few months ago I was knee deep in romances. Before those, I consumed horror and thriller novels.
My mood for reading flows a lot with the wind. I never read the same genre of book continuously. Nor, do I read every type of a genre either. By that I mean, while I will sit down and read J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, it doesn’t mean that you’ll find me with my nose in a book by George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan.
The same goes for every other genre I read as well. While I will sit down to read any and all Nora Roberts romance novels, I’m not particularly fond of a lot of other novels in that genre. A lot of them read as almost cookie cutter to me.
Now, before these things raise all of the romance fans up in war, let me explain how this works for me. It isn’t a particular genre that will call me into a book, or even what is on the cover. I’m drawn to the uniqueness in a book.
I’m sure you all are saying, well duh. What I mean is, the things I absolutely love when it comes to reading, no matter the genre you put it in, is people. The books are about people, not places.
The Harry Potter series is about Hogwarts, magic, and mystery, sure. But what it is really about is friendship, courage, love, and loss. All of it filtered through the eyes of Harry Potter. A young wizard that grows and develops with each book. One that makes mistakes and learns from them. So, while the whole thing is set in a fantasy realm setting and filtered through the eyes of not only a wizard but a young man. Someone who is learning about himself as much as the reader is doing the same.
You can apply these same things to other genres as well. There are plenty of Nora Roberts books that deal with those same features, even mysteries. Some of my favorite mysteries are Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series, and her Hercule Poirot series.
So, while everyone else is saying write about what you love to read, I’m going to modify that a bit. Write about what you love. Don’t take that advice on such a basic fault of genre. Take it further, what about these books draw you into them?
Sure you may really love a setting such as space exploration, fantasy realms, or small towns. However, given as many books written in each genre as there are. You can’t say you read them all and enjoy each of them. Our taste in reading isn’t so much the environment or even the basic plot. It is the characters, their reactions, and how their very worlds and experiences color each of these things.
So while fantasy carries the markers of being in a made up place, often going on an adventure, and meeting people and creatures you wouldn’t normally, it is about more than that. The Hobbit wasn’t about the shire or Middle Earth even, not at the heart of it, nor is it about the shire. It is about a person that loves everything about his life, but chooses to step outside of his comfort zone and discovers how brave he can be along the way.
He starts out as Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit from the Shire. One who is content in his life. Or as he puts it…
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’
I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
Through everything he changed or again, as written…
“This is the story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
So, while I’ve spent years taking that sage advice at face value the truth is. Write what you love to read means more than a genre. It means write about the things you love to read about.
I’m not an author of one genre or another. I write about people that must overcome one of the hardest advisories they will ever face – themselves. ‘For in the battle of fighting ones own demons, do they discover the strength and courage to face life.’ – Misty Harvey
In conclusion of my thoughts this morning, it isn’t about what genre I write in, but rather who I’m writing about. While I might not always guarantee I’ll fit on one shelf or another at a brick and mortar bookstore, I do promise that you will find these battles in all of my writing as they come in so many forms. People having real life discoveries about themselves and growing. That is what I like to read, and most definitely what I like to write.
Remember to L.O.L., my readers. Live it, Own it, Love it. Until next time.