A Well Rounded Identity Crisis: What Kind of Stuff Should I Write?

July 20, 2017
Posted in Writing
July 20, 2017 bryan

A Well Rounded Identity Crisis: What Kind of Stuff Should I Write?

I sometimes wish I was one of those readers that ONLY read one genre, like ONLY reading sci-fi books or horror books or biographies. Then, being a writer would be a lot easier because I could hone in on one genre to write. I would be able to write a lot more instead of worrying, “How would I even market this?” There are a lot of pro writers who say you should write for yourself or for readers like you, so the writing is more authentic. Then there are just as many pro writers who say you should always have your audience in mind. There are pros and cons to both, but because I read and am inspired by so many different kinds of books, both fiction and non-fiction, it leaves me in a sort of identity crisis. 

I usually tend to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I’ll read a Stephen King book and then follow that with an biography or humor book or social commentary or business read, then maybe a graphic novel (I’m too old for comics, aren’t I?)

I took a writing Master Class with James Patterson as my instructor, and it was really helpful, teaching me to follow outlines better, but again, that advice would be so much easier if I didn’t wonder what genre to tackle next. General Fiction (the largest section of fiction in Barnes and Noble and what most fiction readers choose in the library) is what my last two books fell into, and most likely most of my other ones will too, but there are subgenres in that, too. General fiction tends to include Stephen King (not the horror section) and James Patterson (not the mystery section) and Jonathan Safran Foer (not the literary section) and Nicholas Sparks (not the romance section), because all of their stories could market themselves for more than just those descriptions. King has written some of the most prolific literary prose (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) and love stories (11/22/63 has one of the best love stories I’ve ever read) and Nicholas Sparks often has thriller elements that happen in the small towns of his stories. Even JK Rowling has elements to her stories that go far beyond Young Adult epics.

Still, these authors have earned their place in the most coveted popular section of the bookstores. They earned a large audience by catering to scary stories or mysteries or romances or young adult novels, and their audience grew more general over time. I love literary fiction but don’t feel like I’m smart enough to write it. And I love scary stories and thrillers but I have so much quirkiness in my storytelling that I’m not sure where it fits.

Maybe it would be easier to cross out the kinds of work I will probably never write:

Business/Financial

that’s an easy one to cross off the list. I may currently be the dumbest financial person in America. And I have never launched a successful business. So that one’s out. And when I was trying to build a start-up, I read so many business books that told me all the things I was doing wrong and what I should be doing, I now have PTSD because of it and get anxiety even walking INTO that part of the bookstore.

Biography

I don’t know that I have the patience to research endlessly about a person, no matter how fascinated I am with them. And generally if it’s a person I’m fascinated with and I’m reading a book about it, that book is far better than anything new I could add to the story. And even if I do, I’m using so much of their engine that it would feel like cheating anyway.

Military

This serves a big niche in bookstores, and while it is something that interests me, I feel like the research would be so tedious I don’t know that I could keep up. Plus, the military stories I’m most fascinated with are probably better served for me as fodder for my stories anyway. So that one’s out.

Political/Current Events –

No way do I want to tackle this. I’ve been duped by both sides of the aisle in US politics that I almost don’t even care anymore. I remember an old Jay Leno quote, “Every time I think I’m a Republican they go and do something really greedy, and every time I think I’m a Democrat they go and do something really stupid.” That pretty much defines my Independent politics, and these days I pretty much shut myself off from any current events, to the point that I’ll ask people “What’s going on in the world today?” and they think I’m joking. Sadly, I’m not. Who’s the current President these days?

Reference or Any Kind of Text Book –

Yeah, if researching the stuff above was tedious, there’s no way I’m climbing THIS uphill climb. Plus, I’d need more education, and who has time for that? (I know, I know, doctors and lawyers and teachers. I just mean ME. I don’t have time for it.)

Philosophy –

I borrow my philosophies from authors and philosophers far smarter than me, so no one needs my interpretation of anything about the way life works.

So, that’s what I for sure won’t do. What’s that leave me with?

Comics/Graphic novels? –

Yeah, I could see doing a comic book or graphic novel. I’ve gotten into them again after almost 20 years. I might try to write something. Actually, I have considered doing a Graphic Novel adaptation of Merry Men at some point because that could be interesting.

Religion? –

I’ll admit, I’ve gone back and forth on my own beliefs through my adult life, but religion has always fascinated me. From my own Christian upbringing and belonging in that faith to the studies of other religions. It fascinates me how belief plays such a crucial role in how societies and cultures are born and how even the most superstitious and rigid among us are led to make political and social laws or take or give rights to people based on assumptions of things that, while many of us have beliefs in the supernatural, none of us can possibly know for sure until after death. But I have stayed in that field professionally as a minister in some form or fashion because I love the good I can be part of in people’s lives and my own belief that we are part of something much bigger in the universe. That’s why it will always play a role in anything I write. So, yeah, I could see writing something here one day.

Self-Help/Personal Growth –

This is still a big passion for me, so I can most definitely see continuing to write this kind of material.

Children’s Books –

I never thought I would write one, but having three kids of my own, I love introducing them to stories and am always fascinated by who they are reading. I would love to write a children’s book one day.

YA Fiction –

This is something that has grown very big on my radar in recent years, partially because my oldest is beginning to get into some of these books, and it’s a great genre to shoot for because it’s growing so rapidly through the years. I just hope I’d be relevant enough to teenagers these days to be able to capture their attention.

So General Fiction It Is

Pretty much every other sub-genre of fiction will play a role in what I write, from romance to thriller to mystery to horror. So many of these genres fascinate me, and I feel things pretty deep once I allow myself to. (But that’s a subject for another time, learning to open myself up emotionally.)

So yeah, general fiction is where I most likely see myself staying.

There are literally millions of books in the most popular genre of reading and thousands of manuscripts being submitted every single day to publishers and agents, it is really daunting to keep facing rejection. But it’s where I most hope to make a name for myself.

So I’m not sure if I accomplished anything today, but maybe officially crossing off the books I’ll never try to write is a good start.

Thanks for reading my word vomit today. Until next time, reader friend.

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