This might get long.
I’ve been writing for a few years now. In the beginning my goals and ideals were lofty and presumptuous. I wasn’t going to write anything if it wasn’t going to be worthy of classroom study in the next century. My words would be true and they would be visionary, and the world could thank me later. Except, no one was going to be reading those gah-mazing words because they would remain in my desk drawer, unpublished and covered in dust. Or I could put something out there on the interweb and it would also go unnoticed, gathering virtual cobwebs.
So I switched tracks and started writing to market. A very popular, very un-lofty segment of the market, mind you. And I had some publishing success with a pen name, enough that writing actually made me a few dollars for the first time ever. It was fantastic. I was paying bills! The only problem was that writing like that made me hate writing, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to do anything else but write. That’s a problem if you intend on making writing your career.
Write what you love was advice I’d heard early and often, yet didn’t really understand. Or maybe I thought I was doing just that since I loved reading classic and contemporary ‘literary’ fiction. But. I also loved reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and graphic novels. In fact, I read almost everything– mysteries, suspense, thrillers, comics, fantasy, scifi, horror, humor. Looking at my bookshelves wasn’t going to help me figure it out.
A non-writer friend and I were having coffee, talking about this whole ‘write what you love’ business, and he suggested that the what you love part doesn’t have to mean what genre you read.
I started to think about what I love, or even what I simply just like to do. Well, I like to watch tv, but every single program I enjoy has something to do with science fiction, horror or the supernatural, zombies, or the apocalypse (except Mad Men). When I watch something, I’m watching something like The Walking Dead, Falling Skies and Orphan Black. The graphic novels and comics I read are dark and speculative. The games I play are dark (exception for Mario). I like art that is kind of weird and kind of gothic. I find old cemeteries fascinating and I’ve been fine-tuning my TEOTWAWKI plan for years.
It was easy to see what writing what I loved would mean, after making that list. And that’s just what I’ve been doing. I started on the Last Alive series shortly after ‘finding myself’ so to speak, and it is honestly the most fun I’ve had writing, ever.
Which is exactly how it should be. There are a million easier ways to make a living than being a writer. It should at least be fun, right?