The first place it showed up was Go Teen Writers in a post by Stephanie Morrill. It got me thinking, I commented, and moved on.
When it appeared in an article Writer's Digest e-mailed me, I was forced to think about it again. Coincidence?
Then it came up while reading Just Write by James Scott Bell yesterday afternoon. He said: "I love reading [criminal suspense], so that's mostly what I write."
You're probably wondering what the big deal is. The big deal is I had to wrestle with whether I write what I read or not. I would have said no at the beginning of the week because so far all I write is Christian Contemporary and it's been a solid year since I've read anything in that genre. I was shocked when my brain had inspiration within this genre.
But the more I thought about it, I used to read a ton of stuff like this! Not always contemporary, but always the clean romance by the end of it. Janette Oke, Grace Livingston Hill, Laura Ingalls Wilder . . . yeah. Those consumed my tween years, you guys. Then I moved on to Beverly Lewis
The reason I read very little of this anymore is not because I don't like to have a fresh story in a cute setting with a clean romance when all is said and done. I do. Hallmark can speak my language. But you know how there's just that thing that goes with Hallmark? Things that you cover your eyes and laugh at and try to erase from your mind? While I can still love a Hallmark movie even with that, I have a much harder time enjoying books like that anymore! I have labored through Janette Oke's Return to the Canadian West series because it all feels so flat and fake to me. Which is sad because the original Canadian West is one of my favorite series ever.
Back to the point: do I really write what I read? I suppose so. Because even though there is depth, conflict, and flare lacking to some of the stories I would have devoured without a second thought five years ago, I still got the passion to write a story very similar.
Well, obviously because I read enough of them, they are a part of me. I will forever love Laura and Almanzo, Elizabeth and Wynn. They're really sweet and inspiring! But it comes down to the fact that I absorbed enough of the Christian Romance genre, well done and not, that I know what I would do differently.
This is how the Writer's Digest article put it: "You know what fans of this genre want, because you are a fan. You know what is a cliche and what would have you clicking that Buy button. Write the book you want to read."
So my story, Martin Hospitality, is contemporary. That's my first change just because it's me and I'm not giving myself extra research! The main character also has some real issues and isn't actually deep into the faith yet, which is unusual. I tried to add a lot of reality because I want everyone who picks it up and reads even a tiny portion to feel connected. Sometimes a Christian romance novel can transport me, but not engage me. I think there's a difference there. And I am also going different with my cover if I can. Because I heartily dislike most Christian Fiction covers. Not because they're bad, but because they don't do anything for my imagination except give me a face and the cute little house in the background that I can't get out of my head while reading.
I never thought I'd write Christian Contemporary because it's what I have felt done reading for a while. But now I believe it's for that exact same reason that God gave me that really bizarre dream about a pregnant blonde and a really awesome farmer (after reading a Beverly Lewis novel). Thank goodness Someone knows what they're doing.
Perhaps you're like me: You don't write what you read, you write what you've read. Tweet this!
What are the main two genres you read or have read? Think about it. Do you write in them, too? If not, I encourage you to consider giving it a shot sometime! And happy fall! My favorite time of the year is finally here! :)