Some writers are immediately and exclusively identifiable with one genre. You can’t imagine that author writing anything else. Agatha Christie writing a picture book? Mo Willems writing suspense?

For those of us, like me, who are just starting out in our writing careers, our genre-identity is perhaps more fluid, not yet obvious. Or perhaps, like me, there is a desire to write in more than one genre.

Much of the ‘common wisdom’ trotted out for aspiring writers says “brand yourself, establish yourself in one genre before branching out into other genres.” That may be good advice for someone who is getting into writing while in his or her twenties or thirties. Frankly, at fifty-five, I’m not willing to take a decade or two to establish myself in the picture book realm before venturing into another genre.

The truth is, while I’ve been concentrating on picture books for the last year and a half, there’s a possibility that at least a few of the ideas I’ll be working on for 12 x 12 in 2012 (12 picture book draft manuscripts in 12 months) might better be expressed as chapter books for kids aged 6 to 8 instead of picture books for the same age bracket. In fact, I’m planning to try a few of them in both formats, to see which works best.

I also have a middle grade novel in the works – the first draft is completed, and I’ve started revisions. I’m hoping/planning to learn more about writing for middle graders from Kate McMullan at the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference this summer.

I also write for adults. Not just the hymn texts that I’ve had published, but adult fiction.

My genre-identity covers a broad spectrum. There’s one genre that isn’t on that spectrum, though. While I admire writers like Libba Bray and Patricia McCormick, who write so skillfully for and about teens, I have no desire to go deep enough into the teen psyche to be able to write YA. There are many writers who are meant to write YA. I’m not one of them.

An author who writes YA very well, and crafts believable, “real” characters, is Beverley Brenna. If you read my blog post yesterday, you’ll know that one of Bev’s YA novels, Waiting for No One, has won the Dolly Gray Award.   To celebrate that award, I’m having a giveaway. Anyone over the age of 14 who comments on this Monday Musings post, yesterday’s award post, or next week’s  Monday Musings post will be entered in the draw (done through The person whose name is chosen will receive a copy of Waiting for No One. If you comment on more than one post, your name will be entered as many times as you comment.

Now, what’s your genre-identity? What genre do you prefer to write/illustrate? Do you ever try writing outside your comfort zone?

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