Spoiler alert: it’s not as romantic as one might think.
Last week, I shared a post on tips for writing in another language. This week I’m tackling why *I* chose to make the switch from my beloved Romanian to English.
I’m an idealist at heart, but my ambition’s molded me into a realist. The switch to writing in another language isn’t easy, instant, or certain, but I don’t regret my decision for a second. It’s also not something everyone will agree with or think is worth pursuing. To each their own.
So why do I write in English?
I’m a fan
Back when I was young, I sucked at almost everything. Couldn’t play sports. Didn’t have money. Grandma used to dress me up like a doll. Had a lisp. Super prissy. I was super badass, you guys. I also had the shitty tendency of correcting people and…you get the picture.
The one thing I was good at? Speaking English. I’d learned it through watching cartoons and people started paying compliments, for the first time ever. It stuck. It stuck so much that although I was practically catatonic in class during college, too scared to raise my hand, once I got to my master’s classes, taught in English, people had a hard time shutting me up.
So there’s an emotional connection with this language. When I’m tense or feel uncomfortable in social situations, I notice I drop some English words mid-conversation. My cool factor hasn’t increased since kindergarten, in case you were wondering.
Speaking in English is almost like a safety blanket at this point. I saw people responded to it, so I did my best to learn it proficiently. And you bet your ass I bust out those four syllable words in an argument.
Publishing’s not exactly dead in my country, but…
It’s in a slump. The recession hit us hard, guys. The book market is down 40% from 2007 and only worth about 60 million Euros, according to the latest stats. The bulk of that market is taken up by coloring books and tearjerker novels. I write neither. Compare that to the 24 billion market in the US, and you get a (not so) pretty picture.
There’s also a very complex problem relating to distribution, retailers, and Romanians’ spending habits, which I won’t get into. Suffice it to say I did my research when I decided I wanted a writing career and found the national possibilities lacking for my particular goals.
Not to mention the fact that a large part of the novels written here aren’t my style. They veer a bit too close to the literary genre for me, and I knew I’d have a hard time selling my fun, upbeat novels on the Romanian market. The revenues are also abysmal.
Why am I sharing all these facts? Because if you, like me, want a writing career and you’re not from the US, you need to do your research, too. Don’t make a rash decision based on overseas success stories and the glitz and glamour of overnight bestsellers. Know your own market before even considering a new one.
My genres work best in a US market
Know thy writing style. Mine doesn’t have a literary bend, for example. I write fun and creepy YA contemporary, and have an obsession with fantasy, which I feel are more commercial genres. At least the way I write them. I decided early on which market would be best for my preferences. Not that the US market is only made up of commercial books, but it is more forgiving than the market in my own country.
I know some of my friends and professors will stick up their noses at my genres, but I really, really don’t care. I save all of my pretentiousness for my films, and even then I try to tone it down. The idea that only highbrow art is worthwhile and valuable is something that I’ve fought against my entire life and will continue to do so even when I lose all my teeth and get that lisp back. A film or a book can make you think and change your paradigm while also being entertaining. End of discussion (for now, I feel a blog post on this coming in the near future).
That’s the short version of it, anyway. There are a TON of other facts that went into this decision, but, ultimately, I had to figure out early on what would work for me and my career goals. Like I said, it’s not for everyone. But if you’re like me and want to make the leap into writing in English, I’m always here to answer any questions.