What makes you excited? Happy? Concerned? Passionate? What do you care about? That’s where your story lies. I would like to change that picture to the left to read, “If you wish to be a writer, WRITE WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT.” (I used it though because it’s so sunsetty-pretty.)
So often at writing conferences you have industry professionals tell you what’s hot and what’s so 2012. They let you know what their particular presses are looking for and what they’re tired of seeing. And, to some degree, you may be able to fit your story into one of those trending genres. It’s ever-changing. However, where your stellar writing emanates from is not the hot genre. Instead, it comes from what you care about. Your heart. Your soul. What matters to you. That one you’re thinking of right now. That’s the story you came here to Planet Earth to write.
What other people want you to write isn’t necessarily it. For example, a few weeks ago, a local lawyer contacted me because he was looking for a writer to pen a story for some clients. (He Googled and I came up. He liked my website and contacted me.) He was touched by their story which was pretty remarkable.
It’s a human interest story of love and perseverance. A man had reached rock bottom. He was severely injured, and while recovering, his wife had left him. He was thinking of taking his life. In a moment of desperation, he called 411 just to talk to someone. (Not 911, 411. Resourceful.) He asked the woman who answered if she would just talk to him and she said she couldn’t and hung up. He called back. He reached a different lady and she said, “I could get fired for doing this, but I go on break in 15 minutes. I’ll call you back and we’ll talk.”
Long story short, they fell in love and have been married something like 50 years. Their love even survived the time he clinically died, went toward the intoxicating light we hear people talk about, saw his wife weeping, and came back to be with her so she wouldn’t be alone.
When the lawyer told me their story, his eyes lit up. He was so inspired by them. He had, in fact, thought about writing the story himself, but just didn’t feel like his law practice allowed time for it. To me, it was so clear this was the story he was meant to write. And, it’s equally clear to me, if someone has a “great idea for a story,” that even though it IS a great story, I may be in charge of writing different ones.
I love to write stories based on true stories because I think the world is so interesting as it is. I don’t need to world build (fantasy style) because there’s so much here already that fascinates me.The stories that pound on my head and heart are the ones I know I have to write.
The sweet spot in all this is when those industry professionals are looking for the exact story you are telling. That’s where the magic lies. Even if it doesn’t, though, you will be doing your part when you write the story that really matters to you.