I have a friend. Her name is J.R. Tague. She is a writer. She’s written a YA novel called Leveling Up that was just picked up for publication by Crescent Moon Press. It’s a really cool story about zombies in which the protagonist, Max, a teenage boy, is a zombie. The book is written from Max’s point of view and the voice of the narration is spot-on. I’ve told J.R. several times how much I love the voice of the story and I’ve marveled at how she can write it so well. Her reply to that is that she’s basically a teenage boy at heart anyhow, so it comes naturally to her.
I write Historical Romance. I also write a touch of what I would call “Social Sci-fi” as well. I couldn’t write a YA zombie novel narrated by a teenage boy if my life depended on it. I can, however, sit and talk for hours on end about History and Art and anything and everything that happened hundreds and thousands of years ago. I tend to be a wild romantic. Nothing gets my heart beating faster than a tale of love … preferably with lots of sex in it. It would be really nice to say that the reason for that is because my life is full of romance and adventure and rich, gorgeous, titled heroes with enormous bulges in all the right places. Unfortunately, I’m single and have epic bad luck with men. I write about what I long for but don’t have.
We’re all attracted to different things in life. Some people are captivated by stories of relationships and love, others by adventure and individualism. For some people there is nothing better than an afternoon spent sweating in the sun while playing a team sport. For others, a nice, quiet day at the ballet is more their speed. Everyone has a different kind of story.
Okay, that’s obvious. We tend to forget the obvious, simple things in life though. For some reason there seems to be a lot of pressure in the world these days to conform to what the cool people are doing or to read what ends up on the top of the best-seller list. The number of people in the world who aren’t sure what kind of story they are boggles the mind.
A friend of mine, Joseph, recently made the statement that as a writer you should write the kind of books that you want to read. Seems like an obvious statement, right? Which is why I’m always amazed any time I hear someone give the advice that if you really want to succeed as a writer you should write something that fits with what is popular in any given moment.
My dear friend Sam once told me that I could make a killing if I wrote a vampire romance novel. I laughed and said, “But I don’t want to write a vampire romance novel!” She was savvy enough to laugh with me and reply, “Okay, then you shouldn’t write a vampire romance novel.” Although ever since she said that I’m tempted. But Sam knows what Joseph knows: you shouldn’t try to write something that doesn’t move you.
And yet, the part of me that loses patience with publishing from time to time laments that all too often the big guys in charge only want to publish a few kinds of stories. How unfortunate! And how lucky for all of us that the world of indie publishing has taken off recently. Because I think that there are readers out there for every kind of story.
Readers, what kind of story are you? Because I think that it is more than just writers that have stories in them. Everyone has stories in them and for every weird, different, unusual, strange, fantastical, or commonplace story that you have I can assure you that there is a writer who has written something for you. I’ve always thought it was a bit of a shame that the publishing world hasn’t made it easier for you to find those stories.
I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, and I don’t think I will because it’s not my kind of story, but it tickles me that it’s been sitting at the top of all the best-seller lists for so long. Fifty Shades of Gray was a self-published novel. It’s erotica. Never in a million years could you have told me that a self-published erotica novel would take the reading world by storm. It’s not something a lot of mainstream publishers would have touched a couple of years ago. But obviously that story is a lot of people’s kind of story. It touches something in people that nothing has touched to such an extent before.
So even though it isn’t my story, Fifty Shades of Grey proves a point near and dear to my heart. If you tell the story you want to tell, the kind of story that is inside of you, there will be people out there who want to read it. For every idea that you think is weird or silly there will be someone out there who is just as weird and silly as you are. It kind of makes me want to finish that m/m/m/f futuristic dystopian romantic drama that I started writing thinking I would be the only one who cares about it.
So go out there and write your story! And readers, go out there and find the kind of story you want to read. It’s out there somewhere.