Up Against the Trends

Posted by: Pauline Trent
Currently working on: meeting a tight deadline
Mood: a little stressed but motivated and happy

I started writing this post over a week ago. It’s still not where I want it to be, what I want it to be. Trends (and writing about them, apparently) aren’t my strong suit. See, I am incredibly stylish. I’m not the least bit trendy. Every so often, my style comes around the circle and ends up the mainstream trend. I always enjoy this moment because it means I can stock up and get the clothes, jewelry, accessories, colors that I love, easily. No more scrounging in clearance bins or the backrooms of tiny boutiques (although that is fun) or being asked to pay three times as much for something. Then, eventually, the trend will move on and I will still be stylish. Just not trendy. Because that’s how it works. The trend builds, the trend rides the wave, the trend wanes and the trend dies off…until the circle starts over again – and that which was passe becomes edgy becomes retro becomes … trendy.

The same thing happens with writing. I don’t set out to write a contemporary romance or a fiction with strong romantic elements or a romantic suspense. I have stories in my head and I write them. Sometimes, it hits: I’ve gotten a lot of really good response from people who are growing tired of paranormal and suspense romances. Sometimes, it misses: I’ve gotten some pretty negative emails because it was just a sweet story without anything paranormal or suspenseful.

My first novel that I ever submitted had an interracial couple. It is languishing on a dusty bookshelf somewhere in an office in NY because (aside from the fact that it wasn’t very good, honestly) they weren’t sure what to do with an interracial couple. Which imprint should it be published under? Was it this or was it that? Now, when I tell that story, people look at me like I’m crazy because romance readers hardly bat an eye at interracial couples any longer. Just enough time has passed for it to go from confusing and radical to an acceptable trend/subgenre.

Apparently chick lit is dead, paranormal is on the wane, and erotica is on the rise.* To a certain degree, I care. We should all care. This is a business and we are business people within it. To a certain degree, I don’t care. The stories in my head are the stories in my head. Sure, I may shuffle the order in which I write the stories based on the trends and how they are flowing but you know what? They’ll each get written. Eventually and in time.

There’s an old phrase: Talent will out. It means that someone who works and hones the craft, learns it well and sticks to it will achieve success. It also means if we write badly to hit a trend, our readers will know it. But if we write well and just not quit, our readers will find us, regardless of trends. And who knows, if we write well enough and consistently enough, maybe we will end up setting the trend and causing the circle to come back around.

~ Pauline

* I make no claims that this is totally accurate. It was told to me by one person in the industry during one conversation. Thus, the word “apparently” at the beginning of the sentence. 😉


Up Against the Trends — 1 Comment

  1. I’m not trendy either. But give me something classic and I’m happy for years and years!

    I like what you said, “Every so often, my style comes around the circle and ends up the mainstream trend.” Hope that’s what happens with my stories also.

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