Why am I anticipating trouble? Well, because I'm about to express an opinion which by its very subject matter has the potential to make me some enemies among the over- sensitive members of the literary community. On the plus side, there is a very good chance that very few people will ever read this, so perhaps I should stop being Mrs. Worry-Knickers and just say what I have to say (we'll just gloss over that I changed gender in the middle of that paragraph).
I write - mostly - memoirs. I am also writing some fiction, but I began writing through the memoir genre (if you've been through the archives, the story of how I started writing will be a familiar one), and that is where I feel most comfortable; poking fun at the things that have happened in my life, and the ways in which I have reacted to them. My fiction work is very much in its infancy, however I seem to like writing thriller/suspense stuff which leans a little on my personal professional history. That's a very long-winded way of saying that I'm writing a crime novel.
But, here's the thing...coming up right now if you scroll down the page...go on: scroll...
I feel a little like the literary world and market is simply awash with fantasy novels. I must stress that this is a very personal perspective; I'm not on a crusade or anything like that. This is just how it seems to a brand new writer who would dearly love to get noticed (well, let's be really honest: I'd dearly love to be good enough to get noticed) by a reputable traditional publishing house. It seems that everywhere I look there are gaggles of new fantasy titles (many of them with dragons, swords and dark clouds or wistful, winsome and interestingly bedraggled young women on the cover) on the market. Also, in the world of social media I seem to almost weekly see new literary agents appear, all of whom are looking for new authors or new titles, and almost all of them seem to be looking for work which includes fantasy.
I'm not saying that this is wrong. The public - our customers - want what they want. Fantasy seems to be the flavour of the decade, and well-written and original fantasy is no less important than any other form of the art. At a personal level, I find it a little sad when any branch of the art seems to be dominated by a particular style or genre. For me, art is all about divergence, diversity and originality. I like to be surprised, and opening up a web page to be faced with yet another fantasy book title is something that leaves me feeling flat.
I would be less than honest if I didn't acknowledge that envy plays a part in the way that I feel on this subject. Of course it does. Memoirs rarely take off and rumble through the publishing world like behemoths, and I accept that, however I can't choose to write what I don't enjoy writing, and fantasy work is not for me, I think. Memoirs and biographies are always about a unique story, whereas increasingly I feel that fantasy work is working over ground that has been thoroughly tilled already. Nevertheless, I have to go back to the fundamental truth about literary success; the customer will buy what the customer wishes to buy, and at present it seems that fantasy work is right up there near the top of the list of wants (unlike memoirs!).
My job is to keep banging away at the keyboard, doing what I do because it's what I enjoy doing, and accepting that the success of my dreams is about as likely as a lottery win. As I do so, I must also remember that my biggest reward is to be found in the mining of memories, in the remembrance of people and happenings, and in the re-enjoyment of my life so far. through my work I am learning to appreciate the life that I have already led, and to look forward with joy to the life that I am yet to have among the people that I hold dear to me.
I must remember how very fortunate I am to be living this extraordinary life.