For the most part, I write what I love. There's very little market compromise in my craft because even if I decide to take on a popular trope, I do my best to put my own spin on it that makes it sound uniquely mine.
Which is not unique in itself. This is what almost all--if not all--writers do.
I have passion projects, like the Love Beyond Measure series and Verismo, where I carve up bits and pieces of myself and my past and cobble them together in new ways to create characters and journeys that speak to more than just me.
But even when I'm writing something more standard contemporary, I still find myself digging deep into my emotions, or spending hours online talking to people and going on their experience journey with them so I can bring something to life that they haven't seen often enough.
When people message me to tell me thank you for writing in a way that media doesn't usually represent, it humbles me to a degree I don't have words for, but I also understand because I know what it was like growing up inside my own cultural bubble that didn't reflect the status quo of the outside world. I know what it's like to spend your life pushing against stereotypes because those stereotypes are the reason why there's rarely decent representation in the media- even to this day.
It's 2020 and we're still fighting to end the Kill Your Gays stereotype in media. It's 2020 and movies, TV, and books are still fridging women to add 'depth' to a male character. It's 2020 and one of the most famous authors in history just published a high-key anti-trans book after her manifesto calling the 'transgender movement' dangerous. It's 2020 and CBS is still hiring hearing actors to play Deaf rolls. It's 2020 but disability is still, more often than not, a costume that actors can put on and take off.
As an historian, I can tell you that none of that is a surprise to me. I've spent my life's work studying why the human experience is a cycle, and it's likely that society will never escape to some grand utopia where equality and equity exist hand in hand. But as a person-- a person who exists as a minority for several parts of my identity-- I can tell you that I'm tired. And because I'm tired, I write.
My books don't have global impact, and I don't expect they ever will. My characters are chubby, and disabled, and mentally ill, and people of colour, and they don't always love themselves, but being loved also doesn't cure them. I've done my best to straddle that fine line between fantasy and reality so people can still see themselves while also being able to escape the heaviness of reality and find their fairy tale ending.
I don't think my books are revolutionary-- and please understand I'm not saying that to fish for compliments. I'm saying that because my characters shouldn't be. They should just be some of many, in a sea of diverse reading.
For me, writing is an escape. For most authors, writing is an escape. It's a way to channel our passions and our thoughts--our wild imaginations and conversations with invisible friends. For me, it's also a job because my body is now too sick to go back to the work I was doing before this. Every so often, that gets a little bit gutting-- but writing saved my life. Literally. It has in the past, and it will in the future.
I don't think I'm alone in this either. When I was a kid, reading books gave me access to worlds I would have never known. As an adult, writing them allows me to breathe easier, and connect in ways I didn't think possible.
Sometimes I worry that I don't express my gratitude enough for the thanks I get when I put a book out there, but I am trying to show it--even if I don't say it the way I probably should.
But I'm working on it.