Trending Now

Katherine Longshore Reply Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I have never been trendy.  My clothes are so last season (or actually, no season at all), my hair has stayed the same for five years (except when I'm so involved in my writing and life that I forget to get a trim for four months), and I write straight historical fiction (no fantasy, no paranormal, just-the-facts-ma'am).

But trends fascinate me.  Looking at the "Trends" column on my Twitter feed right now (and I suspect these are tailored to my tastes, which is admittedly spooky and deserves a blog post all on its own), I see that what people are interested in include iTunes, #PeopleAtMySchool and the Daily Mail.  Clicking on the latter trend, I see that this is because of yet another instance when the English tabloid has taken something out of context (in this case an article by Hilary Mantel) and made a "thing" of it.  This makes me happy, because it means--even in an oblique way--that an historical fiction author is trending.

Five minutes later, the trends are different.  Which perfectly illustrates what I want to talk about.  Trends change.  As Donna said yesterday, by the time you're writing to a trend, that trend is on its way out.  If you think you "should" write "dystopian" because that's what's on the bestseller list (INSURGENT, PRODIGY, SCARLET), but hate science fiction and don't understand the world-building rules, you're setting yourself up for failure.  But by the same token, if you have a post-apocalyptic novel burning inside you, don't not write it because it won't be trending three or four years down the line.

You have to write what you write.  That's why we do this, isn't it?  Not because we think we're going to make a mint.  Not because we see ourselves one day talking with the President in a Google hangout (but go John Green!).  But because you love what you do.  Because you have characters in you who need to be heard.  Because you love the world that you build.  Because your story--be it dystopian or vampires or cancer survivors or 13th century Welsh rebels or Cinderella or World War II flygirls or a combination of all of these--deserves to be told.  That's what you bring to the plate.  That is what keeps this business fresh.  That is what bucks the trend.

Case in point:  Do you think Markus Zusak thought about trends before writing The Book Thief?

My guess is that he wrote the story that grabbed him by the throat and wouldn't let go.  Shouldn't we allow ourselves to do the same?

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