Monday, 17 October 2011

What do you do?

So, I’ve missed the whole of the Beverley Literature Festival again. It’s getting to be something of a habit with me, based on the twin points of not having the time, and not particularly being a ‘sitting in a room listening to other people talk about their writing’ sort of person. Also, it may have something to do with that word ‘literature’. I’ve never been sure what it means, but I am fairly sure I don’t produce it. I just write stories.

Specifically, I write them in novel and short story form, though I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t expand the range of forms I work in. I used to do poetry, while I’d quite like to try my hand at a script at some point, though I have yet to do so. I suspect that reluctance has something to do with the thought that, if there is one approach that is working for you, then it seems strange to jump ship into a completely different form. Yet obviously, there are many writers I like whom it has worked for, from Neil Gaiman to Oscar Wilde. There isn’t just one thing that they ‘do’ unless that thing is, again, telling stories.

Have you ever stopped as a writer to analyse what you habitually do? I’d guess that the majority of us only really do a small number of basic stories, forms and characters. I’d guess that, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find the same ideas and concerns cropping up again and again, while you write in a fairly consistent style. I know I’m saying this as someone who has hopped genres, but I think it’s true, and I don’t think it has to be a bad thing. Recognising what you do consistently is probably a strong step on the road to having a voice that is definitely your own.


Amanda Borenstadt said...

Interesting that you just wrote this post. This weekend I found myself writing a short story like nothing I've ever written before. I've no idea how it'll turn out, but it's not my usual style or genre. It just came to me, so I thought I'd run with it.

Normally I stick within my comfort zone. I figure, I haven't written my "perfect" fantasy yet, so why should I spread myself too thin? Then again, maybe it's good to stretch some new writing muscles.

Donna Hole said...

I've switched genre's; sort of.

I started my writing adventure with a women's fiction trilogy. As a social worker, it is a story I felt compelled to tell. I'm not sure it is of interest to anyone by myself; but it is the story I "cut my writing teeth on".

I've always read in fantasy, sci-fi, and horror however; so the stories that most people like from me are in those genre's. But, I don't feel like I know how to write those novels because I haven't studied technology, or mysticism, or even ancient cultures.

But I like the themes and philosophies presented in the stories. Maybe its the same for you with literary fiction. You understand the underlying issues, are drawn to to the philosophy or politics; but your life experiences have drawn you in another direction.

I've followed you a while, and enjoyed your unique sense of humor in your fantasy writings. It is all I've seen of your writings; although I get the sense that your ghost writing is not always in the parody/fantasy realm.

The only insight I can hope to give is that maybe you lack confidence in you prefered writing genre. You are an accomplished author, but not under your own name, and maybe that adds to your delimma.

I've bought three of your novels; but I think I started reading the wrong novel - Witch hunt. It seems to be a sequel, and so I need to read something earlier to know what all the references are about. However; you unique author voice is present, and that is what draws me to this blog.

But I'm a fan of experimentation. If you have another writing genre you wish to explore; then I say just do it. Your career as a freelance/ghost writer is not likely to suffer if you write someting just for yourself; and you may find the publishers that already employ you may be intereted.

Or, you'll find other venues for your new writings. Growth is the key to remaining fresh in this market, isn't it?

I'm not an established writer; but I am an employment counselor. And what I tell my clients is, if you feel you have the job skills for an employment opportunity; then you should apply an ddo your best at the interview. You learn something about yourself from every risk you take Nothing says you have to move on if you pass a test; but it sure is nice to know you have career options.

Just my two cents; which may be less valuable than the paper they're printed on . .


stu said...

Thanks for the thoughts. Donna, Witch Hunt is the sequel to Searching, and they're both me in urban fantasy mode, which is kind of what I meant with the stuff about switching genres. They're what I moved away from.