When I first wrote Beautiful, it was more of a personal challenge than anything I thought that I’d someday publish. At the time I wasn’t really thinking about what writing it would do for my writing “career” and what kind of impression that I’d make by writing it. A lot went into my decision to publish this book (explaining all that is a whole nother post…) but one question that I didn’t anticipate asking was “do I want this to be what I write?”
I’ve wanted to write books pretty much since I learned how to read them. At some point, I figured that anything I wrote would be deep and literary. I’ve definitely tried to write what people would call “literary fiction” but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as fantasy does. Still, the snob in me questioned whether I was comfortable being known as an author of “genre fiction.” What if I wanted to write great literature one day and couldn’t because I’d been branded a fantasy writer? (as if that were the only thing keeping me from producing the Great American Novel!) I worried about the stigma that fantasy carries also. And YA. And fairy tale retellings. Especially those based on Beauty and the Beast (perhaps the most popular retold tale).
So what changed? Nothing really. I just stopped caring. Maybe I just got more mature. I write what comes naturally. I write when and where I feel like I have something to say. If I want to change genres, I will. If other people don’t like it, they’re free to not read my work. If people think I’m less intelligent or creative because I write YA or fantasy, they’re wrong. It’s not easy. Same with people who have a negative opinion of me creatively because I retell (I think “reimagine” is a better word here) fairy tales.
That’s not to say I don’t worry about what people think about what I write. I do. I worry that they won’t think it’s good. I worry that they won’t enjoy it, or they’ll feel cheated somehow. Part of my publishing journey is overcoming that fear. My hope is that readers will have a few hours of enjoyment with my work. A few hours of escape from their problems. Maybe they’ll find something in it that they connect with. Maybe they’ll think about something a bit differently. But really if they enjoy it, I’ll be happy. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see whether or not I’ve hit the mark there.