Write What You Love Or Write What Sells?

2014 blog 006Should you write what you love or write what sells?

After eight years of writing novels, I still don’t know the answer to that question. I wish I did.

I love science fiction and fantasy and the first novel I wrote was a fantasy, but when I went to sell it six years ago, I heard the same thing over and over from Christian publishers: “Hmm, you write pretty well, but we don’t do fantasy. Do you have any romance novels?”

So I started writing romance novels.

With the exception of Jane Austin, I’ve never been a big fan of the genre, but I started reading my way through the romance gauntlet: contemporary, historical, Amish, suspense. I tried to analyze why I liked or didn’t like each book and used that information to write romance novels that I enjoy. I like writing romance, but I’m still waiting to see if my take on the genre will attract a publisher.

Last year at a writers conference I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were several Christian publishers looking at fantasy! Romance is still King, but the other genres are starting to grow.

So do I write what I love and hope it sells? Or do I write what sells in a way I love?

Have any of you answered this question? What conclusions did you come to and why/how?

Writing Tips From A Gardener

P1020974The more comparisons I draw between writing and gardening, the more appreciative I become of the creative process.  Here are a few of the ways growing plants and growing ideas are similar and what I’ve learned about both.

1. Waiting is essential and if you’re patient, you’ll enjoy the experience.  In the garden you plant, you weed, you water…and then you have to wait.  You can’t speed up the growing process.  You can’t speed up the writing process either.  (I’ve tried begging, pep talks, persuasion – on both plants and keyboards – and it does’t work.)  You get a good idea, develop it, put words on paper…and then you wait.  You wait a few weeks before you edit so you have fresh eyes, you wait while a few trusted friends read your work and give you feedback, and after you finally submit, you wait forever and a day.  Thankfully, it’s worth the wait.

P10101172. The weather is not always pleasant, but the diligent worker reaps a harvest.  Some writing days feel like it’s 60 degrees and sunny: the words flow, the muses are singing your song, and you could go on forever.  But to reap a harvest worth sharing, you also need to weed and water when it’s 100 degrees and humid; when it feels like work.

3. You must weed.  If it doesn’t belong in the story, pull it out.  This applies to poor wording, cheesy similes, beloved but useless characters,and  stagnant plot points, but it can apply to great writing as well. A rose can be a weed if your garden’s focus is vegetables. Plant the rose elsewhere.

P10103704. Harvest time is magic.  It’s a special joy to see the fruit of your hard work. Blogging is like planting radishes: you put it out there and get almost instantaneous feedback.  A book is more like a fruit tree: it can take years to harvest that produce.  I greatly enjoy my radishes, but I’m taking good care of my trees as well: here’s hoping that my fruit harvest comes in soon.

What’s worse for you: the weeding or the waiting?