End of the school year is always a busy time. There just seems to be a lot to take care of. I’m looking forward to the break from the routine. Soon, I’ll be working on the final edits for Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain and getting it ready for its September release. I’m so excited!! (as denoted by the use of not one, but two exclamation points) While Blessed Light has been in the hands of my trusty editor, I’ve been working on another manuscript that I’ve had stewing for quite some time. I had a complete first draft, but it was in dire need of a rewrite. I’m happy to say I’ve completed that first re-write and now have something that I think is actually viable.
Quite some time ago, I was given some advice by a writing instructor, that I chose to ignore. (sort of). We all dream of writing the Great Novel. We want to think lofty thoughts and dazzle our audience with our brilliant wordplay. We hope to intrigue and touch upon human truths that move the soul of our readers. My instructor told me that she knew the kind of literary fiction I would like to write. She said she had no doubt that I was capable of writing such fiction. She said she also knew my bookshelf was an eclectic one, ranging from Classics, to literary fiction, to horror, mysteries and chick lit. She asked me if I had ever thought of writing chick lit or romance. I admitted I had not. We worked on some stories in those genres, which she seemed to think highly of. I wasn’t convinced. I wanted to write deep, meaningful stories not…not…FLUFF.
A short time ago, I asked myself what I had against this so called fluff. I liked to read books that tested my opinions, made me think, and aroused emotion. I also liked to read books that existed for the sole purpose of entertainment. If I liked to read in both worlds, why couldn’t I write in both as well? It all boiled down to my preconceived notion of what was going to make me an author. I know the advice of “stick to one genre” so that your readers will find you, but I also see authors every single day who don’t necessarily confine themselves. I think it is a matter of personal taste and what you want to accomplish with your writing.
Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain is contemporary fiction. It could even be sub classified as chick lit. It’s a work I’ve spent much time on, and I’m proud of it, no matter what category you call it. The manuscript I am working on now is chick lit. It could be sub classified as romance. I’m good with that. There is nothing wrong with a bit of romance. I have been reading a lot of romance novels right now, trying to get a feel for this genre. I’ve enjoyed some very much, and others not so much. I’ve found a lot of fantastic writing out there that I otherwise might have overlooked. In the end, it is the skill and voice of the author that makes or breaks a book. I tend to like books better that deal with a bigger plot that just the romance between two characters. I am finally coming out of my own head and being honest with myself about what it can mean for me to be a writer. I can aspire to write lofty, literary works, but I can also enjoy writing something that is to be read simply for the enjoyment of reading. Ultimately, my voice, my style, and the plots that I create for my characters are what will bind a story together and what will cause the reader to continue turning pages. I do not have to be “afraid” of being classified as a writer of chick lit, or romance and think it means that my writing is sub par. NOT that I think romance or chick lit writers are sub par because I DO NOT. I have, for years, enjoyed many a good chick lit. Some of my favorites authors write in this category. I’ve been leery of going down that path for my own writing, and I really think it has to do with one simple truth.
All my life, my mother has had very strong opinions of soap operas and romance novels. Never having watched them, and never having read them, she sees them as something unsavory. Something vile and distasteful. I remember the first romance I ever read. I was in eighth grade and got the book for a quarter in one of those, you pay a quarter for whatever book happens to be in the brown paper bag. A book grab bag. I read that book with shock. I can’t tell you who wrote it or what it was about, but it did contain sex, which was completely foreign to me. I felt guilty just for having the book in my possession. I hid it in the back of my closet. Sure, I could have tossed it, but I couldn’t. I just kept taking it out and reading it again. My opinion was formed. My mother despised romance novels and now I knew why. It had to do with sex. Fast forward many years later, and I am still partially defined by the opinions of my mother. I can feel guilty for enjoying certain things that I know my mother would not approve of. I know now that I am grown, what type of book my mother was against, and I know it was those dime store bodice rippers. We all know the ones, full of purple prose and cliche. Every romance novel on the shelf is not the same. There are many types and it depends on your personal tastes and what you enjoy.
I am happy to say that I am coming into my own as a writer (and as an adult..about time!) and I am not defined by the ideas of my mother. I can do or be whatever I choose without guilt. I can write whatever I choose without guilt. It is a freeing feeling. I’m looking forward to the writer’s journey I am on, through the literary fiction, the chick lit/romance and even the twisted short stories I like to write. (technically those would be suspense, but my daughter just tells me I’m twisted…I’m okay with that.)
One more piece of news then I promise to shut up. I’ve launched a new blog for anyone interested, and you can find it at http://www.ADHDKristi.wordpress.com Whenever I make a post pertaining to ADHD or GAD here, I am humbled and overwhelmed by the response. I’ve gotten so many messages from those who feel like they are alone with these issues. I decided to launch a separate place to house the ADHD, OCD and GAD posts. The new blog will focus on these topics and our crazy life as we live and laugh our way through them. DD will be guest posting often about her ideas and her struggles as well. I am looking forward to growing the blog, helping others along the way, raising awareness and reducing stigma!
That’s it for right now. It’s a glorious, sunny day out and I think it’s time for a walk.