Sunday, October 26, 2014
Learning to Speak Out
I haven’t blogged in some time. Why is that? I’ve asked myself that question more than once. I have the time, and it’s a nice break from fiction writing. So what’s the problem?
I think I got an answer last night. Kind of an epiphany, actually. I’ve had a few of those over the years, enough to recognize them when they show up, because they come out of nowhere, and they carry a bit of a zing with them. Something that says, “Hey, pay attention! This is important!” There’s also a feeling that I already knew it—whatever it is—and had just forgotten it.
So what was my big epiphany? I had convinced myself that I didn’t have anything to say. Whatever I wanted to share should be coming out in my fiction writing, and that was enough. Except…that wasn’t true. I have other things to say, and not all of them are confined to fiction—or at least the piece of fiction that I’m working on at any given time.
But realizing that begged a larger question: why was I being so hard on myself? Why was I trying to confine myself to one thing or the other? As I considered that for a while, I finally decided that it’s because of the way I started my very slow-moving career.
My first dream was to write a romance novel that was published, so I could read it in book form like all the romances I’d come to love so well. When I started, the romance genre was booming, and lots of information was becoming available for the unpublished writer. Generous and well-meaning published writers shared their stories, their wisdom, their process, and the answers I was getting became how to conform to the genre. How could I fit my stories and voice into what everyone else was doing?
As I look back, I see that the originality and individuality that created the wildfire that became the romance genre was now being edited out of stories, either by advice coming through writers’ groups, comments from critique groups or expectations of editors and publishers. And so I learned to write within some very specific guidelines meant to appeal to the broadest number of readers.
Makes sense from a business standpoint, right? But creatively, it’s a death knell. As I’ve come to discover recently, that’s been happening with some regularity in the romance genre. Writers are embracing their creativity and publishing those original stories independently. Best of all, they’re having some success at it! They’re breaking out of the conformity in the same way that Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers blew out of obscurity to birth what became the romance genre.
How cool is that!?
So what’s wrong with me? Why am I sitting here, thinking I don’t have anything to say? I have more to say than I realized, and a good deal of it has no place in my current project. There will never be a book that encompasses all I have to say, so why am I stifling any form of creativity that flows through me?
I don’t have all the answers yet, and I’m not sure they matter so much, anyway. The important thing is that I’ve realized I don’t have to confine myself to any one thing. Ever. I can say what I want and in any way that I want.
So here I go…!