Writer housekeeping post!
I’ve been looking at some big-picture stuff over the last few days. This involved sorting through my Goodreads books and tallying up what I read. Because it did. Because what I think is my sweet spot for reading/writing probably isn’t what I think it is.
This came up in a discussion with Annie MacFarlane, sort of. She was (as usual) hounding me for not being commerical enough. She is unabashedly commercial, so she’s kind of biased. But then she said something that stuck with me.
“De, I want you to be like Susanne Collins. She wrote some other stuff before she got popular.”
She said it better and more earnestly than I can report here. It cracked me up. But then I got to thinking about it: Scott Westerfield? Wrote some really weird stuff for adults before he hit on the Uglies series. JK Rowling? Didn’t start out writing Harry Potter. (When you think of all the classic crime writers who started out writing lurid dime novels, it’s kind of funny.) And so on.
Maybe what I think as my niche isn’t really my niche, you know? Thus Goodreads, because I’ve been tracking all my books there for several years now.
Here’s what I got
1) I read a LOT of freakin’ graphic novels. But I’ve never written one. My drawing skills just aren’t up to that level, but clearly I should at least try writing one. SO! If you are an artist and wants someone to write you a graphic novel on the dirt cheap, contact me. Will work with your idea or provide one, short length preferred at this point.
2) I also read a LOT of historical romance novels. I have one where I wrote myself into a corner…I may just need to abandon that one and try something else. I have a contemporary comedic romance that needs editing but is merry and sweet and fun. I should get that done.
3) Clearly I am being pulled toward crime (as a genre). I’ve read a lot of Hard Case Crimes lately, and a ton of Westlake/Stark. I’ve been writing some, too, but for a middle-grade ghostwriting project–very nearly thrillerish stuff, 25K and more plot than anyone but Patterson could shake a stick at. I really like doing it, too. Caper, caper, caper.
4) If I don’t include graphic novels, I haven’t read a lot of SF/F/H lately. If I do include graphic novels, I’ve read a lot of SF/F/H lately. The fiction runs to: epic fantasy (including grimdark), YA fantasy (both high and contemporary), and horror (and more weird fiction than I expected). My trend of not reading a lot of SF really is there.
5) I snarf up good swashbuckling whenever I can get it, and when I reread something, it’s either Terry Pratchett or swash. This includes middle grade, YA, and adult swash.
6) I want to write pulp with a fantasy adventure flavor. I don’t really read it, though, and my pulp novel has officially kicked my ass. Maybe I get to try something else instead of beating my head in over it.
Which leads me to think:
a) Leaving out the whole graphic novel business, I should write a fast-paced swashbuckling romantic historic fantasy novel centered around a crime or caper, instead of short horror/dark fantasy stories. Scott Lynch and Stephen Brust have already done that. I have met the Buddha. Now I must kill the Buddha. En garde! Sure would help if I could fence.
b) I have a SF serial that was over my head that I started and should look at again.
c) I need to get that romantic comedy out. As well as a bunch of other things. Le sigh…
d) I think I like horror more than I do? Horror and noir stand out beautifully in my mind, but they aren’t my day-to-day reading. I think of horror as my “literary treasure” genre, I think. Maybe it’s just what I’ve been reading, though, which is a lot of short stories that are these perfect little gems…
e) To me, swashbuckling isn’t just pirates and swords: it’s a devil-may-care attitude with a headlong adventure, and a political antagonist that can only be defeated by trickery and sharp objects. Could be western swash, could be crime swash. All good.
e’) I think that’s why I’m currently stalled out on Arrow. I like it, I love the characters and the writing, but I’m still in Season 1, and…I was hoping for more swash. The devil-may-care, where is it? Even the playboy son of the bad guy is trying to settle down. I’ll get back to it, but I really hope someone tells me that increased levels of swash will be provided sooner rather than later.
f) As Ray gets older…I wonder if I’ll lose middle grade as a genre. I hope not.
At any rate, I need to let it gel for a while before I start brainstorming ideas. There has been a viewing of The Princess Bride lately, and that could be skewing things. Also, I have a ton of current projects that need to get OUT THE DOOR before I should start something new.
Let’s see how long that lasts…
Subconscious: “But I could be skewering people.”