Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding Your Niche

I was always a writer, like many writers are. I was the elementary school class reporter, the middle school reporter, the high school reporter and worked on the literary magazine. That was my extracurricular activity of choice.

So I was in London, working for a weekly magazine. My editor, John, was a nervous, hyper, chain-smoking fellow. I wrote whatever they wanted me to: I interviewed people, reviewed books, wrote articles on “slimming,” whatever. I was waaayyyy down on the totem pole, but they were all really nice to me.

One day John came to me in a panic. It was deadline day and somehow they’d come up short when they were laying out the copy.

“I need,” he said as he dashed up behind my rolling chair, “a story. Right now.”

“On….?” I asked.

“Spring fashions. Yeah. London’s spring fashions.” He dashed off again—this time out the door.

Well, I was in a fix. This was before the internet. Okay, yes, there was internet in the early 90s, but it was in some government building somewhere and the computer it was running on was as big as a city block or something.

At that moment I realized that nonfiction could be a major pain in the rear end. I was recently off the plane from America. I don’t follow fashion. I didn’t have any contacts to call up.

So…I made it up as I went along. It was my opinion of what the trends would be in London--heavily influenced by the trends in South Carolina, USA. Oh, I did look out the window for a few minutes to see what people were wearing as they walked down the street, but that was about it.

I continued working for different magazines after that, but I was a whole lot more interested in making things up full-time.

I chose fiction and my genre because that’s what I read. I’d read so many of them, I knew I could write my own.

I still write articles occasionally and they’re challenging in their own way. But…it’s actually easier for me to make stuff up.

Have you ever changed from fiction to nonfiction or vice versa? Did you like them both equally? Have you found your niche? Are you happy with it?

018 Lasagna at the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen today, y’all! Run over and help your plates…