Saturday, September 27, 2008

Addendum to "Chasing Trends"

Lately I've been stumbling on a fair number of blogs that are telling me (yes me specifically, the titles of the entries tend to read, "Yo Adrienne, Adrienne! Over here! Read Me!" - and yes I did just use a Rocky reference on myself. I am allowed to do that. Others are not . . .) that what I am writing right now is very hot at the moment.

Now I'm talking about this new project I have been working on, you know the one . . . the one that has been keeping me awake at night, causing my back to go out, and preventing me from posting here as often as I would like? Yeah, that one. I'm not talking about my middle grades, but this new YA that I've been trying to get through.

Anyway, I've read on a couple agent blogs lately that the kind of stuff I am writing is really quite hot these days.

And I wanted to let you know how that makes me feel.

Not a whole heck of a lot better.

See here's the thing about chasing trends (to read the blog post to which this is an addendum please go here). If someone says something is hot right now, that really doesn't help an author who is writing a book at the moment. What is hot right now is what publishers were buying two years ago. Now how exactly does that help me not having even finished my current work, let alone sold it?

It doesn't.

So what do I do?

I keep writing.

If I was the kind of person who truly chased trends, then I would in this moment give up on my current project and desperately seek out what might be cool in two years. But how can we even know that? That's a problem with this industry. We can speculate based on some pretty sound evidence, but in the end, speculation is all it is. Inevitably we find ourselves scratching our heads wondering why a certain book that broke all the rules is the number one bestseller when, dude, it's like about cats and I was so told cats were passe.

Further to this idea of speculation I want to add one thought about the current economic slow down and the affect on the publishing industry.

Much like with chasing a certain trend, authors are very focused on whether people are buying books at all in the first place. They want to know what this new economy means to them. And much like with trend chasing, people can speculate with the given evidence, but there are no conclusions that can be definitively drawn.

Most agree the industry will slow down.

Most agree fewer new titles by new authors will be bought.


What are you as a writer supposed to do about it?

Are you going to think to yourself, "Ah well, I'm just going to stop writing" then? "I'm just going to give up on this project I've been working on for two years"?


You are more likely to think, "Well I have to finish this book. If it sells it sells, if it doesn't, it will be sad. Either way, I'm not giving up on it."

That is why I would recommend strongly that you don't think too much about the current situation. With trends, with the economy, with all aspects of writing I will say what I always say. Yes it is important to understand what is going on in the industry, of course it is. But I liken the knowledge to understanding the "rules" of writing (you know the ones I'm talking about, 'no head hopping', 'no passive writing' etc).

We have to understand all of these elements, true, but then we also have to forget them and just write.

Because after all the speculation is over, after you've attempted to predict the future and found far too many exceptions to the rules, the only real thing we as authors truly have absolute control over is our writing.

And that's actually a pretty comforting thought.


Cate Gardner said...

Of course, now we all want to know what it is you're writing about. :)

Anonymous said...

I think that there isn't much to current trends in literature--there are just books that happen to be good, and sometimes the books seem to get a common theme. But it really just matters that the book is good. Then it will make its own trend.

Adrienne said...

catherine - actually, so do I, lol. No no, but seriously folks. . . right now I have to get the thing into a decent shape where I feel brave enough to share the idea with the rest of the world. Fingers crossed that that day will come soon! I will say that the two blog entries I was referring to specifically were one about the popularity of Steampunk, and another about historical YAs . . . draw your own conclusions . . .

hwalk - Exactly. In the end, it comes down to the book. Frustrating and wonderful at the same time!

Mary said...

Write on, Adrienne! :)

Nik Perring said...

Good post, Adrienne; well said.


Melanie Hooyenga said...

My current project has also been mentioned as a hot topic and a few friends have told me to "hurry up and finish" so it gets out there asap. I'm more worried that my writing is good enough than whether or not I've got the hot topic. As for you, I think you'll be fine. :)

Anonymous said...

As far as continuing to write in spite of a probable slowdown in the industry (especially if you're not already a household name), I think it's important to remember that what doesn't sell today due to finances might sell tomorrow - especially if it's well-written. But it won't have that chance if it's never written.

Marian Perera said...

Good post, Adrienne, and I agree. Even if I built a time machine, traveled into the future two years from now and saw that Conanesque swords-and-sorcery were the next hottest thing in fantasy, it wouldn’t do me any good. I can only write about what inspires me. And if I tried to make myself write something that didn’t, I’d hate the process. It would be work – grinding, straitjacketlike work without any pleasure to balance it out.

I’d also be willing to bet that that lack of pleasure would transmit itself to the work, resulting in something subpar. So I might as well write what I enjoy writing.