I’ve been writing as long as I can remember.
When I was a kid, I made short stories in the form of series of drawings on blank paper stapled together. At some point I progressed to writing in notebooks and adding illustrations. By the time I was nine, I learned how to type stories on our home computer, and I began writing short stories and plays on there. At eleven, I was already working on chapter books.
I was interested in historical fiction for a long time, usually because I had learned something fascinating in history class, or because I had picked up a random book about a time era and became immersed in it. I can remember writing about the Underground Railroad, Ancient Rome, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and many more.
But as I got older I realized that to write proper historical fiction, you have to do a lot of research. And I mean, a lot. Not just reading a couple books from the library and keeping a few tabs on Wikipedia open…the more accurate you want your book to be, the more intensive you have to study that time era.
But I was also always into horror and suspense for a while. When I was nine I wrote about an archeologist who finds an Egyptian tomb with mummies rising from the dead. Then, ate age twelve, I wrote a series of mystery stories, the first one being about a recently orphaned girl who hires a private eye to find her parents’ killers. Then at fifteen I had a long book that went deep into psychological horror, but the project proved so disastrous that I ultimately scrapped it. And of course, my self-published book Resistance is a suspense/thriller.
Finally, I’ve always been very interested in fantasy and science fiction. I couldn’t tell you how many stories I wrote about about wizards, cyborgs, magical kingdoms, talking creatures, time travel, evil warlords, flying cars, and whatever else struck my imagination. I grew up with Star Wars, Narnia, and Disney, and all of these never ceased to inspire me. They still do to this day.
Right now I’m beating myself up because for some reason, nearly all of those stories got lost. All I have are scattered vague memories of them. What I wouldn’t give to read them now!
So what do I write these days?
Honestly, as much as I should focus on what genre I’m going after, I’m much more interested in what audience I’m speaking to. What kind of person do I want to read my story? How do I get them to read the story? What am I hoping to communicate through it? Why am I writing this story, for that matter?
If you’re not familiar with the Elevator Pitch, I highly recommend trying it out. It helped me figure out what was the most important about my writing, and how to share it concisely and effectively. Rather than getting my head mixed up in genres, plots, and characters, I learned how to step back and take note of the heart of my story, not just the means to tell it.
Thanks to methods such as the Elevator Pitch, I categorize my writing more on what it is about, what drives it, what emotions it will give a reader. Not so much whether I can categorize it as Fantasy, Sci-Fi, etc.
My current book could be categorized, genre-wise, as American Midwestern Gothic, with some Horror and Suspense. But as I work on it day after day, I always have to ask myself who I want to pick up this book, and what I want them to take away from it. And I ask myself what’s driving me to keep writing it, as much as what will drive readers to keep turning the pages. It keeps me going.
So that’s a bit of a glimpse into the journey I’ve been on for nearly two decades now. I can’t wait to see what the next years look like for me as a writer.