Watching the musical stage/version this weekend, it reminded me of the classics. More than just Tale, Dickens created many such life-like characters. He sold us on heart break, love, sacrifice, and so much more. I cried when Carton died as I cried when Madame DeFarge died. UGH! Rip my heart out why don’t you.
And it got me thinking. Why do I write? Do I want to write a literary classic? Yes. Do I enjoy writing genre fiction? Yes. Is there anything I don’t enjoy writing? Probably, somewhere, but I can’t tell you what or where.
I know authors who are very content to make a living writing genre fiction. They have the formula down pat and write dozens of absolutely brilliant stories that readers love. And they make a nice living at it. I know a couple who cross into literary. They hate the formula (even though some use it, however sneaky they are about it) and are considered edgy by all accounts. I have clients who I’m having a difficult time placing because the publishers don’t see their ability to capture the attention of readers who like different.
I suppose it all boils down to what an author wants to have happen with their novels. Do they want a work that will be an everlasting tribute to storytelling? To the human condition? Dickens, Bronte, Hugo, and many others? Or do they want a steady paycheck? Formula romance comes to mind. Or do they want both? And are they willing to put the work in to have that happen?
Industry trends change every day, ever so subtly. And readers change what they want to read every bit as subtly. Authors’ platforms change each day, bit by bit, making them more marketable. Yes, everything changes…every day.
Then what doesn’t change?
Great storytelling does not change. An author either writes an amazing piece of work, or she doesn’t. He either makes characters come alive, or he doesn’t. She either knows her genre and does it well enough to thrill readers, or she doesn’t. They know the industry or they don’t.
So there you have it. Hugo, Dickens, Bronte…it doesn’t matter except to write what you write as well as you can. Then, it’s up to the publishers and readers to decide whether or not your work will live on in hearts and minds. Who knows? One day as I sit knitting in Shady Valley, I might be watching one of your stories played out in a movie or stage production. And I can tell the others (once they wake up) that I knew you when.