The Permission to Write

You get to write whatever stories you want to write.

I do my best to read widely. That includes everything from Wyoming cowboy and Indian mysteries to urban vampire romps to family dramas set in Melbourne to novels about eighteenth-century American botanists. I read classics, historical fiction, literary fiction, short stories, series, crime, and lately, I’ve returned to Fantasy—something that I haven’t read since I was a teenager. Then there is the occasional science fiction, speculative, or young adult novel.

The only criteria I have is that you (the writer) tell me (the reader) a good story.

I hate genre shaming. No one should make you feel bad about liking chick-lit, general popular fiction, romance or sci-fi. You have the right to like what you like free from judgement. I equally detest the question ‘what are your guilty reads?’ Lord knows there are a few novels on my bookshelf that some readers would be ashamed to place alongside last year’s Booker or their copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Incidentally, it’s highly likely that neither novel has been read. Don’t all budding author have unread copies of infinite jest on their bookshelf?

The point is, no one should be embarrassed about the fact that they enjoy Outlander, Harry Potter, Throne of Glass or any other work deemed shameful because it has achieved mainstream success.

Similarly, no one should be made to feel bad about the contemporary rom-com/epic fantasy/space opera that is their current WIP.

You are allowed to write whatever you like.

You are allowed to write highbrow literary fiction that no-one will get.

You are allowed to write erotica even though your mum might read it.

You are allowed to write a story about a vampire detective and his werewolf sidekick with whom he has a crush on.

There are writing rules but there are no rules about writing.

If we start censoring our creative desires and impulses, then what is the point in writing at all? Why put all that time and energy into writing something that you’re not even into?

If you don’t enjoy working on your story, then you may as well get a day job because a) it would be easier and b) it would pay more.

If you’re looking for a permission slip to write that cosy mystery, cosmic horror or outback romance novel that is the work of your heart, considered it give.

Write what you want to write!