Ride The Wave

I got another good reminder of my first rule of writing when I interviewed Carrie Ryan. The first rule of writing is, of course, write what you love most. Carrie is a perfect example of this because she writes about zombies. Let me explain. I have to admit that when her book arrived on my desk, a little voice said, “Another zombie book?” While I try not to prejudge, that same voice has a small, cynical streak that knows how publishers love to latch onto trends and milk them until they are shriveled and unrecognizable as something that was at one time new and interesting.

What I forgot, however, is just how recent the zombie craze is. By which I mean, when Carrie began writing her first zombie apocalypse book, way back in 2006, there was nothing resembling a craze, let alone a trend, in the publishing world. Carrie was merely following her fiancé’s advice, which was, literally, “Write what you love.” Carrie Ryan loved the zombie apocalypse.

That she is now riding a wave of interest is merely her good fortune, and she deserves to ride that wave as far as she can. It is very tempting to look at the bestseller list and wish, “Why can’t what I love be like one of those books?” But if Carrie Ryan had wondered this then perhaps she wouldn’t have written first zombie book.

Because beyond the issue of timing – that is, by the time you finish a book meant to catch a wave that wave is dead and gone – there remains the possibility that you are the start of the Next Big Thing. Or the Next Small Thing. It doesn’t matter. All waves are just a coalescing of thought, a recognition within what Richard Bach described as an “intellectual family.” You are looking for your intellectual family, nothing more, nothing less. They are out there, but you will never find them unless you present what you love most as accurately and authentically as possible. Then you will ride a wave, a wave that is entirely familiar, from the great sea of the unknown, all the way home.

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