Have you ever stopped to think about why you write what you do? Why you are drawn to certain genres or styles and not to others? Ever think about why your Voice might be more potent or clear in some works than others?
These are questions I have been pondering for a long time, ever since a writer friend, after reading one of my stories, mentioned how my Voice always came through loud and clear. At the time, I had thought this was great. Like, finally, my writer’s fingerprint was showing through in my work. I also took this as a great compliment, especially after I had been told a while ago that I didn’t have a Voice. But then I started to think: did this mean that all my stories sounded the same? Would readers become bored when they picked up a new story because my work had become predictable? The other thing that came to mind, was that after writing fantasy books for the last few years, I considered myself a fantasy writer, first. What confused me, then, was that none of my current short stories or poems is in that genre–and people seemed to really like them! So did that mean I had mis-cast myself because my writer’s voice, and possibly my talent, was stronger in other genres…?
To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out. I love writing anything and everything I can. I enjoy having the freedom to pick up a pen or get on a keyboard and write a piece in whatever style or genre feels right for the story that’s trying to burst out of me. When I think of writing, the whole thing is one massive experiment waiting to be tried. How do I know what my limits are if I don’t test them? And of course, if I fail at a challenge, you know I’m going to keep hacking away at it until I get it right. Not to mention that some of my favourite writers, like Margaret Atwood, can write anything, and I have always admired that about her.
But isn’t there a point where a writer has to define some sort of niche for himself or herself?
I guess you could say I’m going through a kind of writer’s ‘personality crisis‘, trying to figure out who I am. One thing I’ve come to realize, is that I gravitate to different genres and styles depending on what it is I want to say at that moment. For novels, which involve a major commitment because of the length of time it takes to complete them, I have to be interested in the project. I get bored easily, so the fact that writing fantasy requires world building, as well as the challenge of making a fantastic story relevant to people in today’s world, makes their creation engaging and challenging. And I love a challenge. But I also saw that when I want to comment on society or the human condition, for example, I’d turn to a more literary-styled short story. Or, if I felt angry or stressed out, I might turn to a horror-based flash fiction. Since writing is an intimate form of communication, these short, genre-styled, mood dependent personality flips makes sense to me: I’m looking to have an immediate conversation with a reader about whatever is on my mind at the time.
So, on one hand, being versatile is extremely rewarding, stimulating and fun, but in the long run, when it comes to defining who I am as a writer, it all seems very muddled. Still, I’m not panicking yet: I’m young in the world of writing, and probably as time goes on I’ll find my niche. Or maybe, I’ll just grow to be content being a writer who just likes to spin yarns according to however and wherever the wind blows.
So what about you? Have you considered any of these questions? What are your thoughts and conclusions?