You've probably noticed that I'm what you'd call a funny(ish) gal. So it wasn't a big surprise when my first novel (a mystery) turned out to be a humor(ish) book in places. My second novel was a riot--it housed talking geckos and robot pirates and flying space galleons and monkey overlords and a SECRET that could blow up the universe if it got into the wrong hands, which (of course) it did. After that, I threw a funny(ish) sequel to my first novel into the mix, and then attempted a spoof on the Hardy Boys novels of yesteryear.
Yes, funny is my playground.
So it came as quite a surprise when my current WIP wouldn't leave me alone. It's poignant(ish), literary(ish), and completely beautiful. I can feel the main character's longings as if they were my own, and in some ways I guess they are. It's a book about growing up in a dying culture, the culture my mother and grandmother and great-grandmother lived in and passed down to me. It's also about learning to let go. I'm writing this book because it shares the childhood I had but a childhood my kids will never know. I'm writing this book for my grandmother. I'm writing this book for me.
But, as much as I love this book, I realize its genre is a dying culture of its own. You know, one of those quiet books. Today, industry folks use the word as if it was a bad thing. I have serious reservations about ever selling it, but I'm writing it anyway.
Sometimes, there are story ideas that sneak up on you and take up residence on your shoulder. They whisper straight into your ear and don't bother to check and see if you're paying attention. When those kinds of stories start to talk, it's best to listen.
Sometimes those story ideas aren't dressed like the rest of the stories you've written or plotted either. They don't fit your brand or the trends. So what do you do?
You write them anyway.
Don't worry about whether or not you can sell them. Don't worry about whether or not they fit with the rest of the books you've written (or will write). Don't even worry about whether or not they speak to anyone else.
They are speaking to you. Are you listening?
Chances are, once they've finished speaking to you, and you've written them down, they will speak to others, too. Those kinds of story ideas make the best kinds of books. And even if they don't speak to others, you've been transformed by them. That's all that matters, really, because it will make a difference on the next book you write, and the next and the next and the next.
So do the rest of the world a favor and listen. Okay?