We were travelling over the past week, and I saw a tote in a shop window with this saying:
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
I really like that. It seems I run into so many messages saying, “You should be like this,” or “You should do that.” While it’s important to strive and grow, it’s also important to be true to oneself and face the world from a place of honesty. If I don’t, I’m convinced that at some level, people will sense it.
This applies to writing, too. There’s often pressure to “write to the market.” That’s where success is found! The only problem is, “the market” is a moving target. What’s hot today might no longer be hot in the amount of time it takes me to write a book. “Writing to the market” is about following trends, not setting them, writing a book that’s just like ten thousand unmemorable others. Dean Wesley Smith wrote a good blog post on this topic.
To me, though, the issue is even more basic than markets and sales. It’s about honesty, about being true to myself and to the reader. I just can’t write to a market. It feels dishonest. It feels mercenary. If I want readers to care about my stories, I owe it to them to offer something I care about.
It might not be a story to hit the bestseller lists and make millions, but it might touch someone or give a few hours of enjoyment. And it will be my story, not something I wrote hoping to cash in on the latest trend.