Over on his blog, Nathan Bransford has done an interview with YA legend S.E. Hinton*, in which she talks about her writing and where her stories come from. It's a good interview, but the part that really caught my eye was her response when Nathan asked her about advice for new writers. She said this:
Write for yourself first. Don't study the market, it will change before you can get a book done. The writing is the thing to concentrate on. If you don't want to read it, nobody will.
God, truer words, right? I mean, the market is something that can't be controlled, and, as several people have pointed out on several blogs (it comes up over and over again, so I'm not going to link to it), writing what's "hot" right now is a waste of time because by the time you get your book out there, the "hot" has turned "cold" and something else is hot. Chasing trends is as pointless as chasing your shadow, and not nearly as much fun.**
I guess for me it's a fine line--I don't follow trends closely (I don't have the time) and I write what I want to read.*** But at the same time, I'm not one of those "books are my babies" people who can't change anything about what they write because of the "integrity of the creative process" or whatever. I'm fortunate in that I can fall in love with a lot of different ideas and write them with equal devotion, which makes me flexible. But I'm not so flexible that I will bend over backwards to write to the market. I couldn't, even if it were profitable or useful to do so.
I suppose the point of this whole post is that it's important to have a realistic view of the market and your marketability (if that's what you're going for), but it's even more important to have a love for your story.
* Seriously, she's a legend. If you're too cool for The Outsiders or Rumblefish, then you're too cool for me.
** There's also the corollary to that, which is nothing is a trend until the market makes it so. Books about wizards were not a "trend" when Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Vampires were not a "trend" when Stephenie Meyer sold Twilight. Trends happen after not before books.
*** That's why I write YA, by the way. I enjoy it.