I was once on a panel at a writing convention in Oklahoma and made fast enemies with the agent (now an editor) on the panel.
Because I disagreed.
I’m a pretty mellow human most of the time, but if you say something that I think might not allow people to ascend, to be themselves, or something full of hate? I’m terrible at being silent about that.
I mean, I’m not cable-news tv forceful, but I speak my mind.
What had the agent said?
It wasn’t anything scandalous, honestly.
She just said, “You should only write in your genre. No author is successful if they write in multiple genres. You can’t jump genres.”
And I objected and listed authors who did write successfully in multiple genres. M.T. Anderson. Anne Rice. Elizabeth Gilbert. At that moment, I had just jumped from literary young adult to genre young adult with a book that made me an international bestseller.
She wasn’t cool about me disagreeing.
I disagreed anyway. The reason that I did that is yes, it’s easier to brand and market your art or your writing and generally make more money if you only write one thing. But it’s also limiting.
If you are a person who writes erotic werewolf novels who wants to write a picture book about happy hamsters? You should do it.
Limiting our selves and our art to one specific genre or story or way of being? One specific process? One specific type of heroine or character or fight scene?
We don’t have to do that. We can cheat on our norms and even on our own (and our readers/reviewers) expectations if we want to do that.
Trying new things, cheating on your writing, your art? It can transform you. It can expand you. It can make you bigger and better and stronger and more powerful even if it’s a fail, even if nobody likes it or reads it, but you.
When we push beyond the boxes and labels that surround us (whether we give it to ourselves or others give it to us), we become interesting.
Interesting is so much more fun than dull.
Interesting is being alive, being quirky, being an explorer, being curious, being a doer.
And sometimes being interesting means being on a panel and disagreeing with a hot-shot agent and having her glare at you.
No. I’ll never work with that editor because of that interaction. Do I care? Nope. Because that editor is safe. That editor isn’t interesting. And that editor would hold me back even though people think she’s a genius. She probably is. She’s just not my kind of genius.
We all have people like her in our lives, people who keep us from being brave, trying new things. You don’t have to be a writer to know this.
However, we also do it to ourselves. We hold ourselves back. We are afraid to try. We follow other people’s paths and edicts and hope that we will be successful like them instead of forging our own way.
Here’s the thing: You will fail sometimes.
You will get rejected or hurt and it will suck. But it is worth it. Because failing means that you took a damn chance on something, on yourself, on another person. Failing means that you were brave and that you are growing and that you are exploring and it means that you’re interesting.
The interesting people are the innovators. The interesting people who go after their dreams and desires? They change the world. They move the world. They inspire the world.
So go out there. Cheat on yourself. Move on. Do you art in different ways. Do your work in different ways. Do your life in different ways. Try all the things. Be interesting. You’ve got this.
NEW BOOK ALERT!
What would you do to make a difference?
After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.
Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.
Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED series, Saint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.
BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.