I’ve come a long way and grown a lot as a person since penning my first manuscript at twelve. Just over the past year I have really dedicated myself to writing and I have matured a lot with a great deal of help from family, friends, and peers along the way. As I have honed my craft I’ve narrowed down my goals to five reasons for why I write. They’re also five goals I hope I live up to when I am someday published and five promises I will make to my readers for who I am and what I stand for.These are the kind of books I want to write:
1) Stories that make you feel.
I want to write stories that will make you feel. I love stories that make me laugh, make me cry, keep me turning the pages because if I don’t my heart is guaranteed to stop. In one of my art classes in college a teacher quoted someone whose name I have forgotten but the words have stuck, “Art is not meant to be beautiful. It is meant to make you feel.” Writing is art. You do not have to love my books, even if you hate them and they make you angry then I can be content because they elicited an emotion from nothing.
2) Characters that are human.
I want my characters to be real people you can relate to no matter how fantastic their world may or may not be. One of my favorite genres of all time is fantasy. While my current work does not have elves, or faeries, or hobbits (though I may write fantasy someday with such creatures) I want every character to feel human to the reader as they endure human emotions. I want my characters to deal with issues of hate, discrimination, happiness, love, and loss. I love characters that make mistakes and learn from them because this is an integral part of the human condition. I want characters to be both good and bad, short, tall, skinny, fat, dark-skinned, light-skinned, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, religious, agnostic, atheist, and everything else because real people do not fit in boxes. Real people should be represented and these things that are only a part of real people should not define them. I want characters to be loved because of what they do and how people relate to them rather than just being “the token [INSERT HERE].”
3) If it is important to the story, or would naturally happen, my characters will have sex.
This may seem strange to have a whole point on, but that is how essential I see sex and sexuality to being a part of life and I think it is often times mishandled. I want characters to have sex if it’s appropriate to the story, yes, sex in YA books even. Do I think it’s appropriate for kids in High School to read books with sex in them? Yes, I do. No, not erotica. Not long drawn out 50 shades of everything you can think of in every last detail (though those books have a time, place, audience, and there’s nothing wrong with that). Sexuality is a reality of teens and preteens, even if they themselves have sex or not. Often times these kids learn more about sex from media than from their parents or educators. I remember reading books when I was sixteen and being confused as to why the characters didn’t seem to be going through the same things my friends and I were with regards to sexuality and growing into adulthood. Therefore, I think it is important to present sex in media that is healthy and surrounds the real issues, physical and mental, of the act.
4) Stories that I would want to read.
If I wouldn’t want to read it how can I expect anyone else to want to? I want to write books that are engaging, interesting, and easy to pick up. I will not dispute the value of literary fiction. Without books like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “1984,” “The Bell Jar,” and a list of fabulous must-reads that goes on and on many things that society benefits from hearing would never be said. However, this is not the space I am aiming to fill with my works. I want to write genre fiction that people can simply enjoy. I want to write fantasy that someone who doesn’t usually like fantasy can find fun. I want to write romance that resonates with multiple types of people. I want to provide an escape from the world. I want to write books that can be gateways into the wonderful world that is reading.
5) I won’t write because it’ll make me a million dollars.
Do I want a million dollars? Heck yes. Don’t you? So, of course I’m not going to complain if I fall into the impossible 1% who can make writing their primary income, but that’s not my goal. I have a 9-5 job outside of writing that pays my bills and is on a career path that makes me happy and I hope to do well within. On this list, number 5 is in line with number 4, I don’t want to write books just because it is trendy to or because I’ll likely make more money if I write in a certain genre. For example, I don’t really like mysteries. I’m not saying it’s a bad genre, it’s just not my thing. Because it’s not my thing I haven’t read much in it and I don’t know how to craft that type of tale as well. I can’t say I’ll never write a mystery, but I don’t foresee it. So, even if mysteries are “the thing” to write and what everyone is buying, if I’m not passionate about the story I’m crafting I won’t do it.
Really, it comes down to this:
I write because I love it, because it makes me happy. I want to share that passion, and maybe if I’m lucky enough it can make other people happy too.