When I was in high school, I wanted to be like the Normas--Norma Klein and Norma Fox Mazer. The books written by these amazing women were the first YA novels that really spoke to me. The characters dealt with real issues and their lives weren't all rosy and perfect. I vowed that when I became an author (something I always wanted to be), I would write those kinds of books. Then, I wrote my first book.
The first novel I completed was an adult generational saga. It was a story I wanted to tell, but it didn't work. But within that story was a story of a teenager. The theme reminded me of the books I loved as a teen. I rewrote that adult novel, using only the teen character, and (after many revisions) it became my first published YA novel. At the time, I couldn't imagine myself writing anything other than YA, and my second YA was published two years after that one. Then, something happened.
I got an idea for an MG. I pushed it away. I didn't think of myself as an MG author. I had placed myself into a box and was too scared to get out. I have a friend who writes every idea he gets. Some work, some don't, but he keeps playing. Many of those ideas turn into something great. I wasn't like him. I liked my box. But I got an opportunity to do some chapter books, and I realized I could write in an MG voice. Then, my publishing house asked if I'd be interested in working on an MG fashion series (CHLOE BY DESIGN). I jumped at the opportunity, and for the last three years, I've been writing MG and loving it. And then...
Lately, I've been thinking of writing something new but have pushed the idea away because I decided I'm a children's book author. YA, MG, chapter books--that's me. This new idea was for adults, and while I really connected with it, that old fear crept back. But, a friend and I were recently talking about our careers and how we write in multiple genres and she asked why I wasn't writing my idea. And I didn't have an answer--well, I did, but they were really bad answers. So, today, I wrote the first chapter. And I like it.
I realized do-overs are okay. Reinventing yourself is okay. It's okay to place yourself in many boxes as long as you're willing to move from one to another. You never know what will happen.