Burning Question#12: How do market trends/fads affect your writing?
Writing to trends has always struck me as a very bad idea, simply because I’m not a fast writer. I do not turn out a book in 3 months. (Don’t laugh, I know numerous writers who do…who can polish off a trilogy in a year.) If you are the sort of person who can do that, then by all means, you might benefit from sussing out what’s hot right now and writing that. It’ll likely still be hot by the time you finish. On the other hand, by the time I finish–anywhere from one to two years down the road–that hot topic will be so cold even the embers are out.
Mind you…I could also be wrong about that. I’ve said at least half a dozen times in the last 20 years that surely vampires must at last be dead (please, send no “undead” jokes, thank you). And here they are still annoying the Stackhouse family, and being detectives, and having wars with werewolves. So that’s a trend that seems to be with us for the long haul, whatever that means. We just cannot offload those vampires. Zombies may be with us for quite awhile, too. And if I had a zombie novel idea, I might write it.
Which brings up the second thing about trends for me personally. And that is, in the end, I don’t care. I don’t care what’s hot this week, or what’s going to be hot next week. Really. I’m writing what I most wanted to write out of the stack of ideas that, like Sirens, are calling to me and no doubt trying to get me to sail onto the rocks. If what I write lines up with the thing everybody’s buying, I’ll be delighted. Regardless, I’m writing it. See, I have also known a couple of writers who got lured into writing sequels to books that needed no sequels because the money was too good to turn down. Cha-ching. And then they died. The result is, we have some tepid novels by some terrific writers which even feel as if the author was barely able to engage with the material, while books these folks wanted to write never got written. So, to borrow from Bill Maher–New Rule: Life’s too short to write crap. Aim for high art. If you don’t quite make art, well, at least you gave it everything you had. Trust me, if you set out to write some crap, you will achieve your goal.
Gregory Frost is the author of some incredible art, including the novels Shadowbridge, Lord Tophet, and Fitcher’s Brides. Any second now, he’ll get around to a vampire novel.