Let me explain. I love cosy books, books that make you feel as if you have been given a big warm hug when you finish them. Don’t get me wrong I love the odd thriller or issue-based book (and Game of Thrones is a huge part of my collection) but I find they are less appealing as a whole than ‘cosy’ books. To me Maeve Binchy was the queen of the cosy book. She dealt with real life problems and her characters were so real you were sure they were based on someone you knew but her writing and her endings always left you satisfied. Her gorgeous writing always leaves me wanting just a bit more. Her stories are real yet heartwarming and sometimes a little bit heartbreaking as well – Circle of Friends anyone? She was a class act and hard to follow. But hers is the type of writing I aspire to (possibly can only hope to aspire to).
I once made the mistake of submitting a novel to a publisher of Young Adult fiction who I didn’t realise at the time had more of a fondness for hard-hitting subjects than a young girl’s journey to becoming a witch! Obviously I was rejected (and quite quickly too). I’ll admit now this novel does suffer from the odd plot weakness but I still adore the characters so it’s on the shelf awaiting a re-edit. My point is that many contemporary editors are looking for something edgy, something a little bit cool. Remember they are catering to an audience who at 14 are probably more grown up than some of us (me) were at 24. The closest we got to edgy at that age was Judy Blume (awesome lady and awesome books).
I’ll be honest I did try and become a little bit more edgy. I tired desperately to think up darker plots based on heavier subjects but this made my writing feel stilted and fake. It wasn’t coming from the heart. There are much more talented writers out there who can accomplish edgy while still remaining themselves.
It’s important to find your own voice when it comes to creating any piece of art. Until you can do that everything you create will leave you dissatisfied and won’t really give you any joy. For instance, I recently wrote a very cosy short story. It flew out of me without needing to be coaxed and I enjoyed writing every bit of it. This is what comes from my heart. It may not be cool but at least it’s honest.
I don’t enjoy edgy, I don’t really enjoy weighty tomes; my favourite thing to do is to sit down with a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate and a Maeve Binchy or a Cathy Kelly. And I have learned (the hard way) there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.