Yesterday, off the cuff, I posed a question on Twitter for writers: Do you write from your heart, or do you write for the market?
Not a single person said, unequivocally, "For the market."
There were some responses that blended heart with market in the way only a seasoned or well-informed writer could express. But everyone else said, without apology, "MY HEART!"
Truly, that's what we're told when we're starting out. "Write what you know. Write what you love. Don't try to be a trend-chaser. Don't write for the market, because by the time your story is ready, the market will have changed."
There is wisdom in that. If we want others to be passionate about our work, then we must be passionate about it. And how can we be passionate about something we don't love?
The market is a very real monster. It might not want anything to do with what we love. Even if we write what we love really well. Even if our critique partners and teen readers and spouses and next-door neighbors and hostile family members and agents all LOVE what we've written.
We might still get chewed up and spat out by a market that isn't friendly to our genre. Or, more common these days, that is saturated by our genre.
It's called GENRE FATIGUE. And it stinks.
So, what's a writer to do? I suppose it depends on what a writer wants. And that still doesn't make for an easy answer, because if a writer wants to be published, but everything that writer loves and breathes and bleeds for isn't what the market wants...then what?
Should the die-hard adult fantasy writer force himself to crank out a middle grade adventure?
Does a love for paranormal romance need to give way to contemporary YA?
Do those of us who adore dystopian above all things (alas!) turn away from the stories that make our hearts soar?
Must we redefine our hearts in order to become truly publishable?
Or do we press on, following our hearts, writing what resonates with our souls, willing to ride out the market for as long as it takes for our turn in the sun?
Where does art separate from business? And how?
No, I don't have an answer for you. Because this is an intensely personal decision each aspiring author must make on his own.
Where do you stand? What is your dream, and what will you do if your dream's trajectory isn't lining up with your heart? Will you morph, or will you doggedly cling to what you've always loved best?
As always, I'm all ears.