All you’ve heard is how hot-hot-hot YA is and how Fantasy is driving the industry. So, your new novel will be a desirable commodity in the current market. Then five minutes after you’ve typed the last word in your manuscript, vampires are old news, NA is the genre of the hour and agents are wishing they could read more Contemporary Women’s Fiction and less Fantasy. I suppose this is why they tell us not to write to the trends but then again, how many authors have soared to stardom on the residual waves of a breakout genre
One truth we should always hold to is to write what we love; but what if you love to write what’s popular? What if the challenge of writing to the trends and doing it well is what excites you? Is there anything wrong with that? This message won’t apply to everyone. Many writers have labeled themselves (myself included) as a genre writer. I write YA or I write Historical Fiction. It’s not often that we hear someone say, I write what’s popular. I suppose this would be a truly exposing statement that could be considered an exploitation of the craft. However, it could also represent an artist who doesn’t want to be boxed in by a label.
Does our genre define us as writers?
Let’s face it, the genres we write say a lot about who we are. I will probably never write middle grade or historical fiction but I’ve been cursed… I mean, blessed with the burden… I mean, joy of perpetually co-existing with Junior High students (No. I am not speaking of my husband or my in-laws. I teach Middle School Science.) And therefore, must make a connection with these somewhat complex and otherwise primal beings. They are fascinating and exhausting all at the same time. You can see yourself in them clearly when you speak to them and it’s frightening. AND SO…. I write YA. Will it always be that way? No, I’ve experienced a new burning to write NA and will in the very near future. Which brings me to the question: Is it wise to label ourselves as genre writers if we are not truly committed to the genre forever? Is genre jumping considered writing to the trends?
So, fill in the blank: Writing to the trends is…despicable? A practice acceptable for some but not all? A talent? The only way to make it in the market today? Or, a dangerous practice that can leave you one step behind the game. Maybe it’s all of these. What do you think?