Monday, September 17, 2007

Writing: What's Hot, What's Not

Posted by Lisa

At last winter's SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators) conference, Susan Cooper spoke. If you've never met or seen Susan, simply imagine the most poised and eloquent Brit you have ever met. If you do that, you may come close to imagining the stage presence that Susan held as she delivered her keynote speech.

Though I was eager to read her book, The Dark is Rising, it's taken me, ahem, eight months to finally settle down to it. Though I've had to read it in bits and pieces over the last week, each day I've looked forward to those quiet moments at night when just me and Will (the main character) face the Dark.

When Susan wrote The Dark is Rising, she didn't follow any rules of what was expected at the time. Its tone is eerie. Its setting in icy British countryside is tangible it's so well depicted. Its story is both imaginative and frightening. Susan said her editor loved it but told her it probably wouldn't sell because it was too dark for kids. It did sell at the time. And, it still sells today. Frankly, I wonder if it is selling better today than years back. You see, it fits into the fantasy genre that is so popular today.

A wise agent I once spoke with told me to write what I want to write. Lately, as I edit my YA novel, I have been reflecting on this sage advice. I cannot think about the market, I have to reflect on the story I long to tell. I write, not for money, but for that dream of publishing a book: the longing to BE a writer. I know the best book I could write must be a product of emotions that drive me to tell a certain story, not of trying to fit into a niche that's hot at the moment.


Anonymous said...

Thank you.

olufunke grace bankole: said...


what a wonderful reminder to write the story we truly want to share. thank you.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...


I'm a big believer in writing what's in your heart, not for "the market." For one thing, if it's not from your heart, it won't have any soul. For another, by the time you finish the MS, the market will have changed.

Good writing will find a home.

Larramie said...

In other words, Lisa, you'd like to write a classic. So tell that good story and you will!

Lisa said...

I can't imagine trying to anticipate the market and then trying to write to meet that hypothetical demand -- I have a hard enough time writing what I want to write :)