I saw Alice In Wonderland last night, and it got me thinking about hats. (Great movie, by the way. Strange, but not unusual for the standard Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp/ Danny Elfman fare).
We've all heard the phrase "wear many hats". And as writers, we have a unique opportunity to do so. What's to stop us from wearing many hats? What's to stop us from being horror writers, and YA writers, and journalistic writers, and taking alternate Saturdays to show our prize-winning roses?
Well, the publishing industry, for one. Tradition/ publishing etiquette/ publishing edict dictate that THOU SHALT WRITE ONLY ONE. But this hasn't stopped some writers; writers like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman cross boundaries all the time. So why can't we?
Well, the answer isn't that we can't. (It's also somewhat that if you're Stephen King or Neil Gaiman, you can just lick some paper and it will be a bestseller). The answer is complicated, and not easy to explain, but I'll try. First of all, a lot of writers are just more comfortable in a certain genre. They *are* horror, or YA, or journalism. It's how they think, feel, grow. It's where the ideas come from. It's the garden in which they grow their thoughts. They simply have no desire to wear a top hat one day and a saucy little chapeau the next. There's nothing wrong with that.
But then there are those who juggle hats like. . . a hat juggler. (Strong on the metaphors today I am not). They play three instruments, ride elephants and unicorns, sew, paint, build and garden (no, I'm not talking about myself-- obviously I don't have any unicorns. Yet). They write sci-fi when they wake up and thrillers before bed. Perhaps if you are already used to wearing many hats, it's not so hard to try on a new one. There's nothing wrong with a new hat.
Then there are those who only ever put on their beret/ hockey mask/ ball cap every day because they feel that's what they should wear. That's what the established authority says they should wear, and they will wear it. There's nothing wrong with this, either.
Me, well, I'm complicated, too. I think I've found a home in commercial fiction, but fantasy creeps in even there. I don't know what else I'd write though. And there is that whole "establishment" thing.
So, where do you fall? Are you comfortable trying new hats, or do you stick to one? If you could try on a new hat, what would it be?