"Mainstream" sounds boring, doesn't it? But here I am, a self-professed mainstream writer. I certainly hope my works are not "boring," but they are no doubt relatively normal and, well, mainstream.
I admit I'm not as quirky and weird as writers such as Hunter Thompson or Douglas Adams. I'm not dark and strange like Chuck Palahniuk. I'm not as witty, off-kilter and self-deprecating as David Sedaris. I'm not as literary and offbeat as Michael Chabon. I'm not even as proudly Asian as Amy Tan.
I've accepted that I'm too normal, and too middle of the road. My upbringing probably has something to do with that -- I grew up in a normal, relatively happy home. Both my loving parents are alive. I've had no significant traumas in my life (unless you count the time I almost got hit by a car). I live a relatively stress-free life.
It seems like being a writer should be the last thing I should attempt to do. Where is my edge?
I don't write or read fantasies. I dabble in science fiction with hilarious results. I certainly am of the wrong gender to know exactly what women want to write effective romance. I don't drink (forget about being the next Hemingway or Stephen King, then). I have almost no vice (not even coffee, folks).
Wow, I AM BORING.
So what am I good at? I do have a good imagination, and I like larger-than-life stories set in larger-than-life situations that tell the truth about the human conditions. I love high dramas such as Doctor Zhivago or Les Miserables, but also the quieter stories like The English Patient or Atonement. In fact, I can relate to authors such as Ian McEwan or Kazuo Ishiguro (not that I'm even half as good as they), and their stories have touched me the way I want mine to touch others, and I appreciate their styles and storytelling and feel that mine has bloomed out of that appreciation. And I tell myself, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with being normal and mainstream." I am what I am.
We writers have always been advised to "write what we love to read" and I think there's a ton of merits in that statement. Sure, now everyone wants to be the next JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, and they flock to write YA fantasies. Good for them, especially if they enjoy reading those stories. Best of luck to them.
I've got to accept I am who I am and be true to myself, and only then can my work be true and affecting.
I've decided I can't write to market like that. And I'd be posturing if I attempt to write such books even thought they're extremely popular now, it's because I don't generally enjoy fantasies. I like reading the Harry Potter books enough, but not enough to write that genre. I feel perfectly fine to go after McEwan's or Ishiguro's market, even if that means I'll never be rich and famous. I think I'm okay with that, as long as my works get read. [smile]