We’ve got something super special for you today, blogglings! Yes, yes, we’re still away (we will be back at the end of October!) so we asked one of our fabulous friends to come by!
Mirriam Neal is a nineteen-year-old homeschool graduate. She currently lives in Georgia but misses her home state of Washington, and all the coffee that entails. She writes weird fiction novels. When she isn’t writing, she’s either reading, drawing, or listening to a variety of music. She enjoys writing on her personal blog, Wishful Thinking, and crying over her favorite characters (because they always die).
Seventy percent of the time, I don’t write what I like.
Don’t go anywhere; I’m about to explain.
I wrote The Shadows Fall when I was fourteen. I had just seen The Lord of the Rings and I wanted to write a full-length novel (it was really just an excuse to have some awesome elves, but don’t tell anyone). So, I did. The first draft was an ill-written bundle of clichés and cheesy humor, but over the years as I rewrote and polished and edited, it became something of itself. Sure, it might still be a little cliché, but I love it.
The thing is, though, that for a long time after that, I wrote nothing but fantasy. All my ideas were fantasy. And not any of fantasy’s subgenres – they were high fantasy. The sort with elves and dwarves and Chosen Ones…and not much else. And do you know what happened? I dried up. I got tired of fantasy, and I couldn’t think of what else to write because fantasy was my thing. I didn’t want to write anything else, but I had no more inspiration.
So naturally, I did the expected thing.
I decided to write something I didn’t like.
“I think I’ll try writing a little contemporary fiction,” I said, and so I did. I began The Meaning of Always with the intention of writing a bittersweet summer love story between a girl named Skylar and the twin of her dead boyfriend. You know what? I loved it.
So what did I do next? I began Acceso; another, darker contemporary fiction tangling with suicide and depression. People loved it, and so did I. I was floored. (Still am.)
I began to be drawn toward things I don’t ordinarily love. I don’t usually like political thrillers that much, so I wrote one for NaNo. I loved it.
I got sick of dystopian worlds and secret government projects, so I wrote Monster – and even though I decided to self-publish, I had two interested publishers.
I got sick of vampire stereotypes, so I decided to write a novel about vampires; and This Mortal Coil has my favorite cast of characters I’ve ever written, and get this – even my mom loves it. My mom is not – repeat, NOT – a vampire person, or even a fantasy person, generally speaking.
With Paper Crowns, I’m back to fantasy – and it feels wonderful. I needed to stretch my writing abilities, to expand my horizons and try new things I didn’t want to try, and every time it surprises me because I realize I can do this. I can push my own limits.
What’s next? Zombies? Historical fiction? I’d say yes; maybe both in the same book! Why not? So here’s my advice to you – write what you don’t like. Why? Because people get sick of things. They get tired of trends – just watch how they fly through bookshelves. Two years ago, it was vampires and werewolves and love triangles. Now, thanks to the Hunger Games, it’s dystopia. Who knows what it will be. Trends don’t last long, so whatever you write, write it with a fresh eye and people will be interested. Also, it’s good for you. Expand your horizons. Go somewhere you never wanted to go, and go with open eyes and an open heart.
I know you’ll be surprised. I was.