I’ve been thinking a lot about this phrase lately…
When people learn you’re a writer, they’ll inevitably have opinions on the things you should write. Usually these suggestions are along the lines of “Just write the next Harry Potter!”—not helpful.
People will also get into the specifics of what fiction you should and should not be producing, or even consuming. “Read more comics!” or “Write about grownups instead of teenagers!” or “Why do your stories always feature insecure female protagonists?” are all things I’ve heard.
Which, in a younger me, would have led to some self-questioning: Why don’t I consume and write about these other things that other people find worthwhile?
A few months ago, at my last job, I got the opportunity to interview two fashion illustrators. One of them, who worked exclusively on menswear, said something to me that really stuck out:
I always get told I should do more womenswear, because that’s where the money is, but that’s not where my interests lie.
He went on to describe how much he loved the shapes of men and the silhouettes they made, and how different they were from those of women. And there was no judgment passed on why he chose one over the other—he never implied men’s shapes were better or anything like that. He was just interested in them in a way he wasn’t interested in other things.
I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that’s all. If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It’s what I have.
It’s what I have.
It’s not where my interests lie.
So write what you write; consume what you consume. I’m not going to apologize for being interested in some things and not others, and neither should you.