Friday, 27 April 2018

Variety being the spice of life - how do I answer the question, 'What do you write?' Lynn Huggins-Cooper

I have had what is often called a 'portfolio career' as a writer. That's a polite way of saying I write all sorts, really. In my head, I am more of a 'patchwork career' author. Let me explain. Like most authors, I have written all of my life. My first success was the rather niche achievement of winning a radio poetry competition at the age of four with a poem about foxes. Fast forward to my twenties (I had carried on writing in the interim) and as a young teacher, I was studiously reading the Times Ed. and came across an ad asking for teachers to write educational materials. I applied and was called to interview, and began a very successful career writing for the education market. I wrote books, schemes for schools, online materials - whatever people needed.

On the back of my success, I started submitting directly to publishers of both fiction and non-fiction with varying degrees of success. I now have hundreds of non fiction titles under my belt (for adults and children), and a growing list of picture books, series fiction and novels. I also write articles for newspapers and magazines, and have been a features writer for the TES among other things - that young teacher would have been thrilled to know *that* was coming!

As a textiles artist, with my other hat on (it is a fabulous felted, beaded and embroidered hat, naturally) I write for many magazines and have a growing stable of craft books.

So, when people ask me what sort of writer I am, I stumble a little. I can't just say 'I am an author of dystopian YA fiction' (although I am) or 'I write craft and self-help books' (although I do). I can't say 'I write for newspapers and magazines' (although I do) or 'I write educational books' (and I *still* do) - so I sort of mumble a bit and say 'all sorts' or laugh and say 'anything people want to publish' (but I write plenty without knowing it has a home at the outset).

It doesn't cause me any kind of existential crisis, not being able to pigeonhole myself. I love variety and never feel bored or blocked. Variety suits me. It confuses the hell out of the people kind enough to ask me what I write what would you say?

1 comment:

Stroppy Author said...

I say I'm a writing slut and will write anything for anyone who will pay. And that the only thing I don't write is adult fiction. Though I suppose I also don't write screenplays or poetry (but no one pays for poetry, so maybe that's obvious). (Actually, I find the question tiresome and hate talking about my work with non-writers. Generally, adult fiction is what they think 'books' are and they have no interest in or knowledge of anything else.)