Writer’s Arc (or where I am right now on my path as a writer)

 Writer’s Arc (or where I am right now on my path as a writer)


Weeks ago, sitting outside a coffee shop, I overheard a couple of writers talking about what’s selling right now in publishing. According to Espresso-drinker, graphic novels were the ticket. Iced tea-drinker agreed, adding that the fantasy/dystopian movement is also huge. Both were planning their next projects, looking to trends to help decide what to write.


Admittedly, I was half-tempted to interject with my point of view, for whatever it was worth. But I kept silent – (why squelch their excitement?) – as they feverishly Googled winning graphic novel plots and dystopian-fantasy tropes trying to generate their own ideas while also keeping things fresh.  


To be honest, I couldn’t begrudge them at all. For one because what do I know? I’m very much a work-in-progress myself, trying to figure out what works best for me, writing-wise. And, for another, I too used to look to trends, trying to predict what editors wanted and what the market “needed.” And did that method work? Sometimes, yes. But sometimes not so much.


When I think back on my career, the books that have been most successful are those that were (in some way) the most personal for me. Which brings me to something fellow author Lara Zeises Deloza said of the time when we were back in grad school at Emerson College – that writing was so “romantic” then. We were in love with the allure of being writers, sharing our work, and getting published... We hadn’t yet been exposed to market trends, sales numbers, platform pressure, or the fear of being “pigeon-holed" – or at least not in the way we’d later become. Simply put: we wrote the stories we wanted to tell, those that we cared deeply about.


Sixteen books later, I came back to that place with my novel Jane Anonymous, which in many ways is a very personal story to me. I’d stopped thinking about everybody else was doing and publishing and shifted my focus, asking myself what it was I really wanted to write. 

This notion may sound simple on the surface, but let me tell you; it wasn’t. It took reflection, discipline, self-confidence, and also time. In that time, I focused on the story I really wanted to tell – as well as my intention in telling it. 


So, I guess, in a way, my writer’s arc has come full circle. I started by writing what I truly wanted and I’m doing the same now. Do I sometimes get tempted by trends? You bet. Did the two writers at the coffee shop itch my curiosity in graphic novels. Absolutely. (I actually love the graphic novel form and would love to one day write another.) But will I be writing in a genre purely because it’s trending? Today, I say I wouldn’t, but tomorrow who knows; maybe I’ll have a different answer. As I mentioned, I’m still evolving as a writer – still arc-ing, so to speak. I don’t have all the answers, which is why I didn’t butt into the conversation at the coffee shop that day. But, for whatever it’s worth, this is where I am right now, iced black coffee in hand.





  1. I love this so much. It really is true: passion is what really makes a book, regardless of the current trends.

  2. Reminds me of a line from the song 'Garden Party' by Ricky Nelson: "But it's all right now, I've learned my lesson well
    You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."


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