I have evolved. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! But, it took a lot of years for me to understand just what had taken place during my 'evolution'.
In 2007 I published my first children's picture book I Want a Dragon and was absolutely elated by this achievement. How exciting it is to be a published writer and to see the amazing feedback I received from my first book. Then in 2009 I published my second children's book; a kid's first chapter book called Zero the Superhero and again the feedback was outstanding. Within 2 years of both books being published I had made back my initial investment and 'gravy' has been flowing my way ever since. I believe two years isn't too bad to get back the money I spent on editing, illustrations and production. I'm pretty proud to say that I have sold enough books to be in the black on both and loving every second of it. But, then my mind started to wander and I started to lose interest in the children's book genre. I realized that I had to compete with thousands of other writers to hold a child's attention long enough to get through a 30 page picture book and that sort of scared me. Also, I wanted to be challenged. I am a big kid so writing for kids wasn't really all that hard and because I have ADD I need to have my attention held tight through anything I read. Children's books seemed the logical choice for me.
Sticking to just one genre became monotonous and frustrating. I feared 'labeling' myself as a children's writer would limit not only my exposure but my creativity, so I decided to step out of my genre box and dive head first into fiction.
Because the early years of any author is guided by what other 'successful' writers say or do, I decided to turn to writers forums looking for advice on how to take the plunge into another genre without crippling the success I already had. This was a mistake. I was bombarded by other writers telling me I would be committing writing suicide by changing mid success. Why fix something good if it ain't broke because no one will take you seriously if you jump from genre to genre. Now, I'm a pretty independent chick and being told what I shouldn't do sort of pissed me off. Why would I limit myself because I have already gained success in one area of my life? That's like telling a baby, "Aw, it's just great that you're crawling but don't try to stand-up. You don't need to walk." Seriously?
Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE writing for kids and I know that I will write a lot of other kid's books because I have hundreds of then bouncing around in my immature brain. I adore doing school presentations and answering the sometimes embarrassing questions kids ask, but I also want to be an adult and hear what other adults think of my stories. I want to dig into a character and pull out the creepy uncomfortable parts of his personality. I want to make a reader mad at me because my story has taken a turn they didn't want or a character has been killed off that they loved. So I did it! It took me 2 1/2 years to write and almost another six months for the editing and production process but I DID IT and am so proud of what it has become. Of Lions and Lambs is my first foray into historical fiction and it has been an incredible journey and the reviews so far have been mind blowing.
So I stepped out of that genre box and kicked that box to the curb beside that other blue box of recycled choices. There they wait to be picked up and used again because I know that just because I have jumped off the cliff into fiction doesn't mean I won't be climbing that mountain and taking another leap of faith. Do what feels write and right what feels good.
Vanessa Canevaro is a fulltime writer in Alberta, Canada. Her latest novel Of Lions and Lambs and her children's books I Want a Dragon and Zero the Superhero are available on her site http://www.vanessacanevaro.com as both ebooks and hard copy. Vanessa's new blog Let's Get This Write is found at http://letsgetthiswrite.wordpress.com/