Before I started writing, most of what I read was YA. Part of that is because I teach high schoolers who really don't like books, so I'm trying really hard to stay up on what is interesting to make suggestions for them, hoping if they can see there is one book they really liked, chances are there might be more.
When I decided I wanted to dabble in this writer thing, I first tried to write YA because that was what I read. I struggled with every single aspect. All my characters sounded the same, all the plot lines felt contrived and cliche. It sucked. At about this time, a seed of an idea started forming in the back of my mind. It was impossible to make it work as YA, and trying was just making me angry. I'm a pretty stubborn person, but in a rare moment, I put that aside and listened to the story.
The writing process, for me, really started then.
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I took the first few pages to a small writer's workshop, excited for a critique, but also excited to hear what this published author would call what I was writing.
Contemporary Women's Lit.
Hmm. I didn't really know what that was. So I launched out in search of this genre I was somehow writing but knew nothing about. I struggled to define it, figure out its nuances, etc.
Last night, when I was debating between reading a book or wasting more time on pinterest, I looked at the bookshelf above where I write and realized I had loved this genre for a long long time. I just didn't know it.
People say all the time to write what you know, but sometimes we don't know what that is. Everyone has a story in them - some may have many. Pay attention to the story. Listen to what the characters are trying to say. Worry about how to categorize it after. Chances are, though, when you are studying the elements of the genre you wrote, you will discover you loved it all along.