My Id List

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A few days ago I listened to one of Joanna Penn’s brilliant podcasts. (Just between us, when I say the word brilliant, I try to say it using her London accent 😉 ) Anyway, she podcasts on all things writing including indie publishing, marketing and creating multiple streams on\f income. But at the centre of all that business side of things, she is a creative and has more than 12 fiction titles – possibly more at this stage – so she knows how to craft a story!

This particular episode called Doubling Down On What You Love was her response to the Ninc Conference held recently, where she was a speaker. (Ninc (Novelists Inc) is a member only association for multi-published novelists.) I love Joanna’s podcasts because she is unashamedly authentic about expressing her love for and excitement about writing. She talked about Dr Jennifer Lynne Barnes who is my newest writer-crush. OMG, what a talented human!

Joanna discussed Dr Jen’s (we’re on first name basis…not really, but I can pretend) Id list. According to the Freudian model of the psyche, the Id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends, while the super-ego plays the critical and moralising role, the inner voice that tells us how we’ll never amount to nuthin’. And in the middle of it all, there’s the ego; the realistic part that mediates between the ever-present desires of the id and the buzz-kill super-ego. (This is somewhat of a simplification but it gives us enough of an idea for now. Thanks, Wikipedia!)

Dr Jen says there are certain subjects, desires, inclinations that appeal to the human psyche. Archetypal drives like power, wealth, danger, reputation, status and beauty seem to be fairly universally attractive subjects, and if our book’s subject and cover reflect aspects of these inclinations then we might more easily find our readership.

Joanna says, and I agree, that writers need to write what we love, within our own personal area of Id. Some people in the industry will urge you to ‘write to market’ and if you can do that, then great! I need to write what I am passionate about or I just lose interest. Maybe if I had to create an income quickly from writing I could follow those suggestions, but I don’t have to so, yay, I get to write what I love!

Here’s another WordPress Blog on the same subject! Thanks, Eight Ladies Writing! I love the way Jilly wrote this post because I would have originally just written a list, but teasing these ideas out is really helpful.

The start of my Id list looks something like this…

  • Paris in particular and the rest of France (bien sûr!)
  • Western Europe, especially Italy – think Florence, Venice… although I didn’t really enjoy Florence when I visited.
  • Religion, icons, relics, ritual
  • Druids, magic, healing, herbs, spiritualism. Who doesn’t love old H.Potter??
  • Darker themes of sacrifice, lost children, nuns/monks
  • Architecture, Freemasonry, the building of cathedrals, ruin, old houses
  • HISTORY ~ of Britain, religion, royalty, art, castle ruins, King Arthur (check out the books of MK Hume, my high school English teacher. They are breathtaking)
  • Scotland
  • angels/ demons/ mystical biblical themes
  • TIME TRAVEL! (movies like About Time, Midnight in Paris. Books like Outlander)
  • ART ~ Novels about artists, art fraud, the art stolen from the Jews,
  • Stone circles, Celtic history
  • Ghosts and supernatural themes to a point. I do love a good scary movie but it must be more than just jump-scares and gore, hauntings. Not into vampires unless they are the historical variety, but if they are modern day, please, no creepy love stories! Not a Twilight fan!
  • Historical fiction that cleverly weaves fiction with non-fiction, see Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. I loved his book so much I mentioned it in my novel!
  • Superheroes like Wonderwoman and Captain America. I love them because they are very powerful and all good, moral and just but know that sometimes they have to do the hard job. I love that Wonder Woman’s job is as an art historian in the Louvre. Swoon. But then I like Ironman too, the flawed genius who is made powerful by his genius. I’ve never been a Hulk or Spiderman fan, but have come to like Batman since Ben Affleck took over.
  • Zombies! (I’m currently writing a novella with zombie monkeys!)
  • Crazy fantasy a la George RR Martin with dragons and ice zombies!
  • Psychology
  • World War II
  • Old Universities
  • Museums

Have fun writing your list! It’s interesting to ponder too, as a reader, what exactly makes you pick up a book? What makes you buy it? And what can cause you to switch off and never finish it?



    1. Christine Betts

      It’s incredible how accurate and nuanced a list like this can be. I really enjoy supernatural themes including vampires but as I wrote, have never liked the twilight series so there is an element there that is unappealing enough to turn me off. Could be the gender roles, could be the lacklustre writing. Probably the teen romance I’d say.

  1. Sherry Lee

    Wow, I love your Id list! I would love to see your bookshelf! I’m thinking I’d find a few genres on it. 😉

    1. Christine Betts

      Yes it is varied aka crazy at times! Harry Potter sits next to biographies of famous artists. I love quirky stuff like John Boyne and mainstream like Dan Brown. Historical fiction, fantasy and really anything set in Paris… 😛

  2. Leiloni Schulz

    My children and I recently made vision boards. They were just poster board with pieces of magazine pictures cut out, and glued to it. It is interesting that my children, and the class that we did this with did have some common things. The kids, all want to be rich, and famous. I wanted financial freedom, travel, yoga certification, and published books just to name a few things. I am sure that I could have gotten more creative than that, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

    1. Christine Betts

      I made a board with friends a few months ago. It was fun to see all the things we had in common and how we differed. It’s interesting isn’t it, that the kids all want to be rich and famous. In the grip of post-modernism as we are.

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