My grandmother had a name for people who were unusual or eccentric in some highly visible way: odd ducks. I've always liked that term because it sounded funny and kind of charming instead of cruel and derisive. It certainly applied to more than one elderly family member, like the one who always refused to wear undergarments because she felt those parts of the anatomy needed to "breathe" (she always wore skirts, however, which was why my mother always made me stand right behind her when we were on stairs or escalators.)
I know I definitely gravitate toward books by certain odd writer birds out there (and not because they refuse to wear underwear.) I enjoy books with an original voice or that defy classification, which in this trend-driven industry is tough to sell. To me a truly gifted storyteller is one whose work doesn't remind me of anyone else's work but stands on its own, separate and unique. But I don't think these writers should all be called ducks, odd or otherwise. While I like ducks, there are a lot of other interesting birds out there who seem to fit better.
Horror and dark fantasy are both genres that have always embraced the innovators among us without burdening them with a lot of preconceived notions about what "must" be in the book. Now that the genres have grown to encompass many sub-genres (urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk, what have you) there's even more room to create. The shadowy elegance and fierce independence of the best writers in these genres make me think of black swans.
Although it's often called formulaic, the romance genre has also been opening up (okay, we've had to use crowbars most of the time to pry open the back doors, but I think the best of today's romance writers are taking us to places we never could dream of twenty years ago.) The romance writer who breaks away from the flock and does something new and different should be called the lone flamingo.
Inspirational fiction has also been (slowly) going in some different directions. Along with Christian writers who are experimenting with new types of fiction, we now have writers of different faiths building worlds based on their belief systems. Thirty years ago Pat Wallace used astrology to build an alternative Earth based on the zodiac instead of skin color (and probably got a lot of crap for it); now we have stories written by practicing Wiccans, Buddhists, Jews, atheists, you name it (I'd just like to see some sub-category recognition for inspirational writers of other-than-Christian faiths, but I won't hold my breath just yet.) The most original of these soulful writers are doves of many colors.
You don't have to be an odd duck to be a successful writer, but even if you're firmly settled in your flock it doesn't hurt to take some time now and then and write something different. Pick a genre you haven't ever attempted and write some flash fiction, a scene, or a short story. See what you can do with what you haven't tried yet, and maybe you'll find it allows you to spread your wings like nothing else you've done.
Now it's your turn: what sort of writer (or reader) bird are you? Let us know in comments.