Loving What We Love
Love What You Love. That sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Almost not worth saying at all. Of course we love what we love – right?
Well, kinda. But at least for me, it can get awfully knotted up from time to time. And I don’t just mean back at university, where I fell into the kind of crowd that sneered at popular fiction. I spent a full year desperately trying to write literary fiction, working against every personal taste I had. (But all the cool people respected literary fiction and ONLY literary fiction, so that must be what I really loved…right?) (Wrong.)
Sixteen years later, I’m lucky to be friends with a whole bunch of readers and writers who share my literary tastes, and I’m confident enough not to fake it anymore when I’m having a conversation about the books I love. But when it comes to the books I write…well, that’s where it gets tangled again.
When I wrote my first Kat Stephenson novel (A Most Improper Magick), I never expected that it would get published, so I wrote just for me – just exactly what I loved. And whoa! It sold! I got to write two more books in the series, having more fun than I’d ever before had in my writing life. I loved writing those books, and I wrote them exactly to my own tastes (with the guidance of two fabulous editors, in the US and UK).
But here’s where it gets tricky. Having sold a trilogy of books once…it’s very, very hard to trick my subconscious into writing just for myself anymore. It knows that there’s a possibility of selling more books, which of course I desperately want to do. And everything in my people-pleasing self starts shouting at me: Don’t write what you love! Write what OTHER PEOPLE love!
It took me months to force that part of myself to shut up, before I finally settled into writing my last WIP (which I’m in the middle of revising). But now it’s time to start a new book, and the voices are back. Don’t write that way! That’s the way YOU like. That’ll never sell! they shout.
Honestly, it got so bad that at one point, I realized the whole reason I’d chosen a third person POV for the new manuscript was: because that’s what other writers have done. It’s not what I usually like doing. So somehow – because it’s not “me” – it feels “safer.”
Aaagh! That is so not a good reason to make a writing decision. I know that. “Safe” doesn’t produce exciting. “Not-me” doesn’t make unique. But somehow, it’s painfully difficult to put that knowledge into practice, especially when I’m nervously preparing for my last (first-person, very-me) book to go back to my agent, and then on to editors.
So. Since common sense doesn’t work…I’m trying jewelry. Hey, why not?
When a wonderful friend (and beta-reader!) sent me an Etsy gift card for Christmas, I ordered this pendant from my favourite Etsy shop, The Fable Tribe:
It’s a visual reminder, every day when I sit down to write: a reminder to clear my head of those jabbering voices and just focus on one question over all:
What do I really love?
And then: Write that!