(Acoustic version of "Message in a Bottle" by Sting)
I have another manuscript my agent wasn't able to sell. Another young adult story that is out of step with what the publishers are currently buying. That makes three books in five years.
(Digression number one: I have nothing but respect and admiration for the work my agent has done on my behalf. Please, no agent-bashing in comments.)
Anyone less stubborn than I am might have given up on writing books that don't sell after one or two. Maybe that writer would have written different kinds of books, books that had more of what the market was looking for. Certainly, I think there have been times when I must have driven my agent mad. We had lunch when I was in LA a little over a year ago and spent some time walking through the local B&N, looking at the YA shelves together. It was sad and frustrating to acknowledge that my stories didn't seem to have a place next to what was published. What is even more frustrating is that she believes in me and in my writing. The editors who have read and then reluctantly turned down my work, praise it, but don't know how to sell it.
I seem to write small stories. By small, I mean stories of choices and change, stories of friendship and danger in a world not quite our mundane one, but not too far from it, either. My worlds are not populated by flashy monsters or mythical creatures. My stories are not propelled by a primary romantic plot that depends on the heroine making a choice between two suitors. That's just not my style or my preference in writing.(Digression number two: this isn't a 'traditional publishing stinks' tirade. I have gone on record in the past, and still believe, that the flexible author is the author who will thrive. I will publish in whatever way gets my books into the hands of its ideal readers. That means a mix of traditional, small press, and indie.)
(Digression number three: I'm not anti-romance. I just think the love triangle plot device is horribly overused in YA work and has become a parody of itself.)
It seems like my stories are neither here nor there. Neither magical enough, nor realistic enough to fit into neat genres.
But they are the stories that resonate with me.
(Digression number four: this is not a plea for reassurance or a self-pity party. I am comfortable with the choices I have made in my writing and have no regrets.)
I don't believe in writing 'message' fiction. (I bet you were wondering how I'd relate this to the title. . . ) It smacks of parental lectures and after-school TV specials. Yet all story has a message. I understand that. This is mine:
- authenticity matters
- integrity matters
- trusting oneself matters
- honor and friendship matter
Where the mundane and the strange collide.
Where the familiar twists slightly out of shape.
Where ordinary choices lead to extraordinary journeys.