The two aren’t generally mutually exclusive, of course, but sometimes they feel like it. And sometimes you just write things because you want to.
Maybe they’re not all the publishable, maybe they’re the wrong length. Maybe they’re the wrong type of story. Maybe you’re writing a vampire novel in an already over-saturated market. Maybe you really have a thing for westerns.
But why do it ? Anyone who’s been writing/doing stories for a while will tell you they have multitudes of ideas, some more “publishable” than others. I currently have a list of possible ideas – and I know which ones would have a better chance of doing well.
But I don’t make my decisions based upon “what would do well.” If I want to write a quasi-epic contemporary political thriller fantasy novel with a bi main character who gets married to another guy as a major plot point, then I will, god damn it !
More seriously though – I think decisions on what you write, what you start, should be exactly that: decisions. Thought out, proper decisions. I wanted to write a novella to see if I could. Getting it published wasn’t in there. I’d like to, because I think it hasn’t turned out half bad, but if I send it to the 7 publishers who accept that length and they all say no, then *shrugs*. Publishing wasn’t my main aim.
Why write that mess of a genre bender described above? Because it started as a work for a friend, and I quite enjoyed the world and the characters I built, so I just… kept going.
Will some of my work be more… mainstream in the future? Yes. Because sometimes I’ll want to write something a bit more specific. Sometimes I’ll want to see if I can get a, b or c published.
But at the end of the day, I think as long as your aware of the consequences that come attached to certain pieces – for example, novellas, which sell pretty much not at all – then I’d go ahead and write whatever you want. Just be aware of exactly what you’re letting yourself in for, and if you’re not going to be happy with that outcome, pick something else.
Again, most people have more than enough ideas to be choosey. So pick something you’ll enjoy, in full knowledge of where it will most likely lead, and get on with it 🙂
Image taken from flickr, under creative commons, attributed to Dee Ashley