I have asked myself this question many times, taken online quizzes and submitted samples for analysis and at the end of it all I’ve determined that I don’t one hundred percent know what kind of writer I am. I should know. Shouldn’t I? I know what I like to write. I like to write poetry when I’m particularly stressed or emotional. I write quickly without any rules and let the words arrive of their own volition. There was a time when I wrote a poem every night before bed. I wrote them all at once, without stopping to edit or revise or allow myself time to think about it much. And I found this kind of writing gave me a tremendous sense of release. Other times I write in vignettes painting a picture with broad gestures and very little shading. These stories usually arrive as a whole at inopportune moments and I find myself scrambling for some paper and a pencil and write until the story is done or my brain kicks in and puts an end to it. Sometimes I write historical fiction. I like the narrative, the flowery prose, the use of language. And I like to write for children.
If you asked me what kind of a book I would most like to publish, the genre I would most like to be known for, I would have to say that I would like to be known as a children’s author. I’d be over the moon to be able to tell a story like Kate DiCamillo does or Roald Dahl or Brian Selznick or J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman. I love the imagination behind children’s fiction. I love the idea that parents are flawed, that animals talk and that little boys can live in clock towers or become wizards or be raised in graveyards. It is a magical genre and I want to be a magician.
Writing for children satisfies the part of me that is unwilling to grow up. Or is it unable? When I sit down to work on a children’s story I feel a certain sense of melancholy. It’s painful. I think it’s fear. I’m afraid that I want it so badly that I’ll never get it. I feel like I’m 12 years old with my eye on a new bike and only 3 dollars in my piggy bank. I want the bike, I’m working for the bike, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever get the bike. The thing is that if I don’t do the work I remove the possibility.
Possibilities are what children’s books are all about.
Today I watched Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech ‘Make Good Art’. He talked about worry and how it kept him from enjoying the journey some of the time. It’s keeping me from enjoying the journey as well. Not that I’m in the same stratosphere as Mr. Gaiman as a writer but he is also a human who worries sometimes.
I’ve decided that I am a multi-faceted writer just as I am a multi-faceted person. I don’t have to pick one. I just have to make good art.