Ready, Set, Focus?

I spent enough time in the business world to understand the benefits of specializing, but I’ve had a hard time subscribing to that message for my writing life. After publishing a couple of young adult novels, I switched to picture books. Novels are fun, but I loved the succinct, lyrical form of the read-aloud. A few picture books later, I did a travel guide. I love visiting new places, and what better excuse to tour my state? Middle-grade non-fiction? That sounded fun, too – it’s being illustrated as we speak, and it comes out next year.

I guess you could say I’m all over the map. The unflattering version is the old cliche, Jack of all trades, master of none. I prefer to think of myself as a generalist. That’s what they called me when I took my first teaching job in rural Alaska. No Child Left Behind has put generalists out of favor, but they’re still something of a necessity when you run the numbers in small village schools.

I’m sure there are practical reasons to specialize, even in creative pursuits. Readers like to know what to expect from an author. But maybe they also like to be surprised. I hope so.

Scroll to Top