One of the highlights for October was the annual Ozark Creative Writers conference, held in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It was an informative weekend filled with writers from as far away as Arizona and Oregon, and featured 39-year published author and creator of “Rambo”, David Morrell.
Commenting on his unusual longevity in the publishing world, Mr. Morrell stated, “The average author’s career lasts 15-20 years – largely because a writer often finds a format that works for them, and then does it over and over until both they and their readers tire of it. He then went on to recap the last hundred years or so of book printing history (more about that later).
My favorite sentiment from Mr. Morrell was, “There are no inferior genres, only inferior authors.” That was a refreshing point of view in an industry that often seeks to pigeonhole writers into an imagined hierarchy of what constitutes “good” writing.
Perhaps it struck a nerve with me because a typical question asked of a writer – especially at writers’ conferences – is “what do you write?” My initial response, which I generally am able to keep to myself, is ‘whatever I can get away with’. That’s because I enjoy writing a variety of things, and am generally so tickled that people actually pay for it.
So the next choice in responses is to consider who I’m speaking with and answer accordingly. I’m an education writer. I write non-fiction. I love mysteries. Sometimes the snobbier types are referring to what you’ve published, which may be entirely different from what you write, especially for those who have to pay the bills. Of course, I understand that most people are just looking for a hook to hang your name on, a method of identifying this new face in a confusing sea of strangers. Still…
I find the question similar to that insulting section of a form that asks if I am caucasian, african-american, asian, native american, or a purple-people-eater. I’m human. Isn’t that enough? I’m a writer. No further categorization required.
I’m also a fan of good books. Period. My favorites are filed under sci-fi, romance, western, contemporary, classic, biography, childrens, and memoir. A story told well – in any genre – is a story that translates to everyone. And that is something that transcends genre.
So I might be writing a children’s book…and a thriller…and a historical saga. And I hope they will just be good stories – however Dewey decides to classify them. So I’m not going to ask what you write. I’d just like to know what are your writing NOW?