Sunday, July 18, 2010
It seems simple enough. At first glance, one would think that the above advice should be a given - something that one wouldn't even need to think about. But to be honest, it's so much harder than you may think. The idea that a writer should focus on creating what they love, with no thought to what's popular or selling or wanted is so much easier said than done.
My own dilemma involves the fact that I love YA paranormal romance...and I mean that when I say it. I read almost every one that comes out, and when it comes down to it, if the story is completely based in reality then I'm not interested in it. Hell, I live in reality every day, why would I want to read about it =). So, as you can see I love, love, love paranormal romance, so of course that means I write...you've guessed it - paranormal romance. Problem is, the market is saturated with it right now. Due to the recent popularity of Twilight and other paranormal stories, every writer out there is taking their chance at what's become a hot genre. So, where does that leave me?
I'm a pretty good writer, but with the market being so flooded right now "good" just may not be enough. I just read how when agent and writer Mandy Hubbard was looking over queries she saw one that she really liked and that would've worked a few years ago, but in this market it just wasn't enough. So, what now?
Well, what every agent and editor is looking for at this moment is Middle Grade. So, of course, it makes sense that I should work on writing that. But with the exception of Harry Potter and a few other stories, I'm not all that into MG. I tried to think on a new MG story. I even thought on reworking an old book that I love, but that doesn't have a relationship in it and could be made into a MG. But when it came down to it, I couldn't make myself get this new YA paranormal romance out of my head. And I have another one pushing right up behind that story - both are itching to be written, waiting to be put down in black and white. So I struggled. I went back and forth trying to think on what to do - and then I remembered a piece of advice I gave to a critique group member and friend Barbara: Write what you love.
Is YA paranormal romance super popular right now? Yep. Does that make it more difficult to break in? Hell yeah! Will that stop me? No.
When it comes down to it, I have to go with my heart. I can't write what I think this agent or that agent will want, or even what I think will sell big. I have to write what appeals to me and hope that, one day, someone else will listen up and think it's as great as I do. It may take me ten years, but I know if I keep pushing at it then I'll reach my goal.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
So, I've decided to participate in WriteOnCon.com, an online conference for children's book writers. It's a great opportunity for writers who can't make it to the regular conferences held around the world, and I'm so psyched about attending!
One of the many perks of the site include a place to upload queries and first pages, and the conference has a section open early so participants can get some input on their work. I put my query up and got some really encouraging feedback - people loved my query and thought my story would definitely be a great fit for the teen market today. I was flying high...on top of the world. No one could bring me down. That is, until one person came in with a critique, marked my query up in red, and basically didn't like or get anything about it.
When I read the critique I was a bit hurt - hell, I was crushed. I began to question all the work I'd done. Is my query completely unclear? Have I written a story that no one will want to read? Have my blood, sweat, and tears all been for nothing? I was drowning in silly sadness - all because of one person's opinion.
After speaking to my critique group, I realized that this experience is an inevitable part of the process. Just like no two readers will feel the exact same about a writer's work, no two agents will. It's not personal, it's just the way it is. And I had to realize that for the one bad critique I received, there were seven others that were overall pretty good.
So when you get one, or two, or even twenty negative or neutral responses, remember that this business is a subjective one. As a writer, you just have to trudge through those responses to get to the ones that matter - to get to the people who will love and get your work.
So, as Eddie Kendricks put it, "Keep on truckin', baby."