I recently saw what looks like good advice: “Write what you buy.”
So I looked at the books that I buy. I buy:
- Alternate history.
- Literary historical fiction.
- Fantasy, especially grimdark. But also Terry Pratchett.
- Classic mysteries.
- Literary horror.
- Diverse authors.
- Smartass romance.
- James Bond novels.
- Pulp SF and pulp crime.
- Short stories!!!
Some days, it feels like I’m never going to get to write the stuff that’s really “me.” What that stuff is, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that it’s a moving target. But I’ve been studying across genres–and writing across genres–so much lately that I feel somewhat at loose ends.
Who am I? What makes me “me”? What’s the difference between books that I pick up because I’m studying a genre and books I pick up because I want to? I’ve never been able to see my own style or tastes; I just know when something’s off (I didn’t used to!). But I feel like that’s part of me, too. I’m not going to be happy as a writer if I feel like I haven’t tried all the experiments, looked at the art and craft of storytelling from multiple perspectives, stolen the tricks from every genre and made them my own.
What does that even mean I should write, though? I don’t know. I have an email folder full of story ideas. Crime, near-future thrillers, horror, historical fantasy…most of them are terrible and I no longer want to write them.
Today’s lesson: stop overthinking it and write what you love now.