Tuesday, August 23, 2005

writers writing right right now, right?

An editor once asked me this question: What do YOU want to write? I couldn't give her a truthful answer, because the truth would have meant the end of my stint at that house -- a house I eventually ended up leaving. Her question was unrealistic and idealistic. I think most writers at some point end up writing things they don't want to write. It's nice to be employed and put food on the table. This has nothing to do with selling out, or compromising my ideals. I write pop fiction, for chrissake. And yet I bend, and I turn, and I throw myself into something I'm not totally committed to. And in the process, I convince myself that this is what I want to be doing. This is good. I actually believe the lie until I look back and see it for what it was. I call it stepping into another person's life. I create characters all the time, so why not create a character I can wear? One who won't chafe too much. Someone similar, but probably nicer. And let's make her wittier while we're at it. Ah hell. Let's make her an adult.

What do YOU want to write?

A better question: What do YOU want to write that publishers will want to buy, and people will want to read?

It's a tough one.

I wonder what percentage of writers are writing exactly what they want to write right now. Say that three times very quickly.


Kelly Parra said...

Well, the book I'm trying to shop now was originally what I wanted to write. And now having to revise it for what editors want, it has changed. I'm still happy with it, because it's my words, but I'd happier if I didn't have to add stuff that hadn't been intended for the original story. =)

Are you happy writing thrillers? Or are you just talking about writing characters and plots you are not thrilled about?

anne frasier said...

i am THRILLED to be writing thrillers. it's what i've wanted to do for 20 years. it just took me so long to get here. BUT i also reallyreallyreally want to write supernatural thrillers and horror for young adults. i'm moving more in that direction with my current book, but at the same time i don't know anything about that market and i don't know what my current readers will think of the new stuff. at least 50% is from a teenager's POV.

Jeff said...

I'm thrilled that you're thrilled about writing supernatural thrillers! (say that three times even more quickly) :)
Because I have yet to be published, my two cents on this subject may not be worth a crap. But I have an opinion. (don't we all?)
And that is, I think writers SHOULD write what they want to write about, and then find a publisher who will accept it. Now, I'm not so naive as to think this is easier done than said, and I realize there are times when you have to write something you may not be particulary excited about because you need the money. Still, I think the work of a writer writing what he or she wants to write has got to be better.
Hemmingway said, "you have to kill your darlings." While that may be true, and writers end up as you said, bending and twisting their stories to make them palatable to publishers, I can't help but wonder what kind of great manuscripts J.D. Salinger has locked away from public scrutiny? hmmm? Probably some stuff he WANTED to write! I'm done rambling now . . . :)

anne frasier said...

yes, it is easier said than done. :)
i remember submitting two proposals for books i really wanted to do -- and they never made it past my agent's desk. i'd worked on one for a long time. it even had sketches. :D i'm sure he thought, WTF??? Sketches??? what kind of book has sketches?

Kelly Parra said...

Supernatural thrillers would be cool, also YA horror novels! I'm sure there's an entire difficult process, and lots of things I don't know about shopping around proposals, but I hope you get to write what you truly want to soon! =D