So Scott said something interesting in the comments yesterday on his post. He said that if I hadn't written Monarch, he wouldn't have been brave enough to write a detective novel (which I've read, and it's aWesOme). Anyway, where I'm going with this is that if you haven't noticed before, I write in different genres. Thriller (Monarch), YA contemporary (The Breakaway), fantasy (Bonded), straight literary short stories and poetry (True Colors), my next planned novel is YA historical kind-of-paranormal (yes, you heard that right). You name it, I'll write it. My little saying has always been that "I write stories, not genres." I stick by that in defense of me branching out all over the place, and I'm really blessed to have a publisher who will publish different genres from me because, honestly, a writer can be seriously doomed in publishing for not sticking in one genre if they don't have a bit of luck finding publishers and agents willing to walk with them through all those genres.
As a writer constantly trying to push myself harder with my writing, I've always felt it's important to feel somewhat uncomfortable with what I'm working on. It means I'm growing and trying new and important things (I hope that's true!). In college, I gave myself permission to write crap, and I wrote a lot of it. I also wrote a lot of experimental pieces, which ended up working, and in turn helped open a door for me to see the wide spaces that lay beyond a room with walls. I hate feeling trapped, and I suppose that's one of the reasons I don't stay in one genre in my career so far.
So when Scott said that he was brave enough to write a detective novel because I wrote Monarch, a lot of emotions went through me. First, I thought that is way, way cool! And I'm flattered because his book is really good. Then I let my big head shrink down and I thought, well, I wasn't necessarily brave in writing Monarch. I didn't write it to branch out in my writing and try something new. I just wrote it because it was a story bottled up inside me and it happened to come out as a sort of quasi-drama-thriller thing. So I'm not sure bravery has anything to do with it, but it got me thinking about what other writers do, and it got me thinking about maybe how I should branch out more and write something really beyond what I've tried before. Not genre, really, since I already write in different genres, but something bigger in my storytelling.
So my question today is do you intentionally branch out in your writing? Or do you just write what stories come to you? Do you plan this stuff? Because I think Scott does, and a part of me is insanely jealous of him because he seems to reach different planes in his writing that I haven't reached yet.