Monday, March 30, 2015

Don't Box Me in

There's only so many ways to sing the blues and yet no one ever asks blues musicians why they're still doing it. Do you ever feel restricted by the constraints of the crime genre or overwhelmed by what's out there?

by Meredith Cole

Everywhere you turn in life, there are expectations. Your own and others. And it's a struggle to hold strong to what you want in the face of expectation and obligation. I'm sure that's even true of people who sing the blues.

I remember meeting a nice boy (oh so long ago...) and when we finally moved in together, people would ask when we were going to get married. When we got married several years later, people asked (on our wedding day!) when we were going to start a family. But we waited 7 years, making movies and art--even living in Paris for a while--until we were ready. And after having a baby, I was shocked that so many people ask when we were going to have another.

Being a novelist is a little like that, I'm afraid. As soon as you get your first book finished and published, someone always wants to know when the next one is coming out. And you can jump on that moving escalator and try to churn out books as fast as possible (each one a little different but not too much). Or you just can be happy that they're interested, choose your own path--maybe even crossing genre lines--always trying new things and know that some people will be very disappointed in you. As a stubborn individualist raised by hippies, you can probably guess that I'm picking door number two.

Happily there are lots of great writing role models out there for someone who doesn't want to be boxed in. Charlaine Harris springs to mind. So does Kate Atkinson and Michael Chabon. But there are plenty of others (and I bet Art Taylor can reel off about twenty with no problem!). And lots of musicians that sing the blues when they've got 'em, and sing something else when the mood strikes.

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