On March 3rd, 2016 the lovely Colleen Hoover broadcasted live on Facebook. Hundreds of readers—including myself—jumped on to tune in.
What I find encouraging about Colleen Hoover is that she is down to earth and enjoys interacting with her readers. During her live broadcast, she turned to the viewers to ask if they had any questions. You can imagine the hundreds of viewers typing in their questions—I was one of those people—realizing it was a million in one chance my question would be picked to be read and answered. To my surprise, my question was chosen! Of course, my heart stopped and I may have squealed, but then I focused on what Colleen had to say.
The question I asked, “What advice do you have for an aspiring author?” elicited the following response from Colleen:
“I think that it is really hard to try and write, and write what’s popular—a lot of people focus on that when they are writing a book. They do a lot of research to see what will sell, and I think that it is really important that you write from your heart, write what’s speaking to you, and ignore everything.”
“When I wrote Slammed, I didn’t know what I was doing—I researched it and read that you shouldn’t write books with poetry, you shouldn’t write books with college-aged characters. This was right after I finished writing it. ‘Oh great nobody will read the book.’ If I had read that before I wrote that book, I wouldn’t have written the book, because I would have listened to what I read. So luckily, I just wrote it—wrote it for fun. [I] didn’t really care about the outside world and what was selling, and it worked out. I think that as long as you write something that you’re proud of, then you won’t care if it sells or not. Of course, every writer wants to make money, but that shouldn’t be your main focus. I feel like readers can tell the difference between the writers who write for the love of writing, and for the love of money.”
This response confirmed what I have believed throughout my own writing journey. It was refreshing to hear these words echoed from a fellow author. We should write because we want to write, and write what we want to write. We can’t afford to get caught up in the themes, genres, or topics that are popular—why would we want to feed into the already saturated world of stagnant, stale ‘norm’?
“Why should we follow the crowd, when we can change the course of the world?”
What is popular right now may not be popular when you finish writing and release. For example, Orphan Flowers has been in the writing stage for the past two years. The literary world has changed drastically within these two years. If I had chosen to write about a current hot topic, when I released two-three years later, it would have been obsolete.
A story fell upon me, I began to write it. I didn’t know where I was headed at first, or even how the book would end. All I knew was that a story was being born right in front of me, and someday that novel would grace this world, in whatever genre it fell into post-writing. I’m not worried about what is trending right now, because writing is more than just a writing hot trends; it’s a whole other world of its own that we can’t allow to stand still.
For anyone reading this blog post who is thinking about writing, or maybe you are in the middle of writing that debut novel, here is some advice.
“Write because you want to write, and write the story that inspires your soul.”
Thank you Colleen, for offering me a reminder of why I choose to write, and echoing what I believe. Let us continue our writing journey, and create stories the world can devour.