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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Who are you?
No, not just the Who song of the same name, but an honest question I find myself fielding a lot with respect to writing and fielding the equally curious looks when I respond with "I'm just a writer." People desperately want to know what kind of writer I am and while it should be an easy thing to answer, for me, it's really not. See, it's a curious thing, having fallen into this YA writing world without ever having intended it. And I can't deny that it's played a large part in my outward identity as a writer, since it's a path that's brought me a lot of success and it's currently the only genre in which I've been published.
However, I've never made any secret of the fact that I've always intended to write for the adult market. That it's still my goal, to land a publishing contract for one of my adult novels. However, that doesn't mean that I don't have a healthy respect for young adult. If there's anything guaranteed to raise my hackles, it's to see adult writers who think they can write YA because it's "easy" or that they can dumb down the same stories for a younger market. 'Scuse me while I snort with laughter, but since that's a whole other rant, that's what I'll limit myself to. Besides, they'll learn. Maybe.
Anyhow, my point, and I do have one, is that there are times I find it difficult to define my writer identity. I mean, I write YA, but I never really considered myself a "YA Writer," the way so many others do. That's all they write, that's all they ever wanted to write, that's where they feel most comfortable, and they're absolutely fantastic at it. Admittedly, I sometimes do feel like a little kid, standing outside the soda shop window, watching them having malts and fries, completely secure in that particular identity but honestly, I know that's not where I belong. At least, it's not the only place. I know I want more. So I continue to plug away at my adult works which run from contemporary romance to women's fiction, to my latest work which has everyone who's read it saying, "Yeah, this is definitely a lot more mainstream than anything you've ever done before."
Whatever that means.
See, in the end, I'm not much for labels. I'm a storyteller and I have the ability to translate those stories to the page. Who they appeal to? Well, in an ideal world, they appeal across a broad spectrum. Just because a book is labeled a YA because that's the age of the protagonist or it's the group that a bunch of suits in marketing think it's going to appeal to, doesn't mean that it can't or shouldn't appeal to a larger group overall. (Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series comes to mind here, for example.)
For me, just because a book has a love story, doesn't mean it's just a romance or just because the main character is a woman, doesn't mean it's just meant for female readers.
You know, it's a lot like music (for me everything's like music, it's a thing). Anyhow, in music, people have this deep need to categorize and compartmentalize, in order to make sense of the huge variety that's out there, but in their zeal to do so, there's so much they're potentially missing out on. Personally, my favorite musicians are the ones who defy description and who refuse to allow themselves to be slotted neatly into an easy-to-define category. When they're asked what kinds of musicians they are or what kind of music they produce, they're perfectly happy saying, "I do what I like—I'm just a musician."
Kind of like I'm just a writer.
So, who are you?