I've had a comment on an earlier post (Hi Judy) which touched on a topic raised by the conference which I am keen to post about. Judy I hope you don't mind that I repeat part of your comment here :)
so there's the conflict. Do you write for yourself or the /a market?; write for popularity ie for money or for prescence?; write what you feel or study the market, genre, word length, and the anomalous one - read what's been published and is in the marketplace. Then write something fresh and new that hits the mark.
I'm sorry presenters/keynote speakers - you didn't make it easy. At least one speaker I listened to urged us to study the market. Another urged us to write what was in us. Both are respected and successful writers for children. So which is it folks? Well, in my many minutes of experience people I believe the answer is yes. Neither guarantees you a publishing contract. As I posted not so long back, publishers want something new and fresh that's exactly like their most successful books. You can study the market extensively and write on a popular theme/genre. You may or may not get published. You can write on what interests you, what gives you brain fever and spins your dials. You may or may not get published. Some people are very good at writing to the market. They look at the elements that are present in the most popular books and can spin a new story on a trusted framework. Other people have fallen in love with a character who just has to go off on this tangent that they can't get out of their heads. They create something thats sends shivers or squeals down their spine. I believe that YOU already know how you want to write. DO NOT look at the other writer doing it the other way who has had a manuscript accepted and think you are doing it the wrong way. There is no wrong way. The answer is yes. Write the best story you can, in the way that you feel most comfortable/happy with. If you do something against the grain chances are this will show. If you write the way that suits you best you will have a much better chance of writing something that works. Nothing guarantees publishing success but trusting yourself will make it more likely. Phew. Thats my two cents worth on the subject.
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