I’m the type of writer who can bend. I can ghostwrite in many types of genres. BUT…how much bending is too much? I think I just found out.
Without revealing details about the situation, I will have to speak in generalities. I want to share what this taught me but I don’t want to be unprofessional.
Every writer has to decide whether they will write what is “authentic” and what “expresses themselves” in their creative act or whether they will write what sells. I would LOVE it if what sells was authenticity, all the time. But the truth is, categories of literature (or other forms of artistic expression) get created and the form becomes narrowed until you have to fit a certain mold for (most) people to be interested.
On rare occasions, someone has success who doesn’t seem to fit the mold. Sadly, most writers will probably not experience this.
And so, most writers must write for an audience and not for themselves. One writer who comes to mind is Louisa May Alcott. She is best known for Little Women. Ironically, she didn’t like it! She wrote it for money and to help her father to get his own manuscript published. She would have rathered that the women didn’t have to get married off.
The point is, sometimes we have to choose. Will we bend in the wind or stand against it? Or is there a true middle ground?
With my own novel I am writing, I am wrestling with this as well. I love classic literature. I want to imitate some of my favorites and bring my own creativity to the table. The risk is, my book will be different from the popular children’s fantasy out there. Sure, I can add a couple conventions to try to make it sell…but do I want to?
What do you think? How much do writers need to write for the market, and how much can they express themselves as artists? Do you prefer to read books that are popular or ones that are unique?