Writing what we read
I don't read adult fiction. There, I've said it and there's no taking it back. I try, and once in a while make it through a whole book but it is no more than one or two novels a year, compared to 50-100 or more children's books a year.
I write YA and middle grade and picture books. When I read, I devour YA and middle grade and picture books. I go in spurts where I want to read a lot of books along the same lines of what I am working on. When I am working on the book in letter format, I read tons of those. I have a huge stack of ghost books to read when I want to get in the mood to work on the ghost book.
I don't know if I can separate out that I read books for kids because I write books for kids or I write books for kids because I read them. I mean, adult books just don't interest me. Correction, most adult fiction doesn't interest me. Adult books will often (and I am aware I am making huge generalizations here) often tell me who and what but kid's books tell me why. I read books for kids because, inside, I am not a grownup. I don't wanna be one. Inside I am still a 12-year-old girl who is always asking why and never getting any answers. So I write books for kids to answer those questions and I read books for kids because they give me hope that I'm not weird, that someone else really does feel the same I do, has the same fears and hopes. To me there is much distance when I read adult fiction and less distance in a good children's book. Though I miss out on things in a lot of children's books that others call good because if I can't relate or care about the character, nothing else in the story matters to me.
I also think I read kid's books because the character is often hurting in some way, and my inner child is still hurting in a lot of ways, so there is instant identification. Since I don't feel like a grownup I can't relate to the grownup stories the same way.
I also read for what my mind cannot provide. That's where I read a lot of adult non-fiction. I adore adult non-fiction, but adult fiction, well, it is very easy for me to put the book down and walk away from it.
Like all rules for writing, I think you have to take what works for you and discard the rest. However, if you have a niggling feeling that you should try something new, play with it, but don't hold yourself hostage to it. Above all, writing to me is an exploration of not always what I know, but what I want to know more about.
Write on, right now.