Or more precisely, the writer I was then is not the writer I am now. I’ve changed my mind on a lot of key issues. I’ve gained a lot more experience. I just feel…different.
The blog is still useful for a particular audience, but it no longer feels authentic to where I am in my writing journey.
Do I continue to invest time and energy in the blog when it’s not as personally fulfilling as it once was? Do I shut it down and give up a readership of thousands? Something in between?
Whatever I choose, change is the key word.
Change can be scary because it involves risk, but it can also be positive when it forces us to grow and write something better. Here are some ways in which changing my mind over the years has helped me grow as a writer:
Writing in different genres has helped me discover my strengths.
When I first started writing seriously, short stories were the last thing on my mind.
I spent at least the first year focusing on picture books. I became insanely interested in reading them, and I wrote and submitted tons of work to small publishing houses. But I saw little fruit for my labours, and eventually my zeal died down. I began looking for something more fulfilling.
For a year or so after that, I dabbled in longer forms—some middle-grade chapter books and a bunch of novel concepts that went nowhere. I had a great time, but they weren’t very good.
Then came a couple of solid years of working on mainstream novels. I wrote two of them, but something still didn’t quite feel right. I was on the right track, but not where I felt wholly comfortable.
Three years ago, I decided to try short fiction after all. The more literary short stories I read and wrote, the more I began to feel I’d found my strength. My stories started being published in journals and anthologies, which convinced me I was on the right track. Now, I see myself as working toward publishing either a collection of short stories or a novel written in short stories (like Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad or Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.)
It’s okay to change your mind about what you want to write, or what style you want to write in. Experimentation is key to finding out what you’re best at. And just because you enjoy writing in a certain style or genre doesn’t mean that’s the style or genre in which you’re going to be most successful. [Read more…]