On Monday, author Anna Staniszewski blogged about "What Story Are You Meant To Tell?" She's always been fascinated by space travel, and has finally figured out how to tell the type of story she wants. She feels it's her story to tell; as she said, "the story is one I would have liked to read when I was young."
I'm thrilled for her, yet I've always found such advice worrying. When I was young, I loved fantasy, and read just about every fantasy novel I could get my hands on. But fantasy is very difficult for me to write; my world-building often becomes immensely complex and confusing, my magic inconsistent. My stories work much better when I'm on firm, real ground.
But am I telling the types of stories I would've wanted to read as a child? That I'm meant to tell?
Lately I've been cleaning out my bookshelf, dividing books into must-keeps, maybes, and give-aways. The must-keeps have been separated onto their own shelf, and have provided a clue about the type of stories I like to read: Adult mysteries, Victorian novels, writing guides, MG cancer stories, YA inner-city violence, fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary mean girls...
In other words, I like a lot of things. And as I've been thinking back over my childhood, I've realized I was the same back then. Even though I read a lot of fantasy, I treasured Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.
So maybe there isn't one type of story I'm meant to tell, but rather certain characteristics that I love in stories: characters I can relate to, settings that transport me to another place and time, stories that make me laugh, cry, and think. And those types of stories I can write.
And that's what makes an author's career, too, isn't it? If I'm lucky enough to become published, I want to write as much as I can, and tell all sorts of stories. Maybe, like Anna with her space travel story, someday I'll even figure out how to write a fantasy novel.
Thanks, Anna, and the commenters on her post, for helping me to find perspective on this!