As a fairly new member of the MRWG, I am trying to find my place within the writing community I so admire. I have one short story already published in the 2015 MRWG Anthology, and another awaiting publication next year. I have more confidence now than I had when I joined, more knowledge, more ability with the craft of writing, yet there are times when I falter. On the way to a writers’ luncheon the other day I mulled over a few of the lessons I have learned of late.
One of the most insidious show stoppers, especially when writers are starting out, is the negativity of a treasured friend or a close sibling. It has a debilitating effect on their current work and if confidence is not regained quickly, can endanger future projects. That tiny critical voice of said “loved one” joins all of the other tiny voices of insecurity and becomes a roar in their ear each time they sit down to write.
It is easy to say don’t let this derail you. It is easy to say staunch the flow of negativity. However, the reality is so very different.
As writers starting out, we try to fit in. We attempt to emulate every other fabulous author we have read and aspired to be. BUT, and you knew there was a “but” coming, readers don’t want everyone to sound the same. Yes, writers want the success of a J K Rowling or a Nora Roberts or a Patricia Cornwell . . . but the world is ready and waiting for new authors, new stories and new unique voices.
Be true to yourself. It might take some time to find your own unique voice but once you do, sell it for all it is worth. Sell your brand, sell your story, sell your uniqueness. Be the next big thing!
We don’t all want cookie-cutter stories. In the past, I have stopped reading books from fabulous mainstream authors once they all start sounding the same. Twenty-five years ago a well know author broke onto the Best Seller List with his second book. I adored his writing and pimped him to anyone who would listen. He quickly became a favourite of mine, and I bought everything he wrote . . . that is until I could predict every storyline and every ending. I wanted the thrill of a new story, a new challenge, a new voice. So I went in search of other authors who had captured my imagination with book blurbs or fabulous covers to titillate my reader’s palette.
Since joining the MRWG two and a half years ago, I have probably read close to seventy books, some in print and some in eBooks, not all of the Romance genre, and some I admit I have not finished (no they are not all in my Goodreads page – who has the time?). I try to post reviews, but I know I am sadly lacking in many of those. I work an eight thirty to five job, five days a week. Time is one commodity I wish I could stretch out at will. For example, the days when you are in a meeting at work and you want the time to pass quickly, as you have a mountain of work on your desk. Squeeze. Then there are days where you have decided to tackle your TBR pile and you want that day to go on forever because you are loving the freedom of diving into a beautiful story and getting lost for a few hours. S.t.r.e.t.c.h. Those are the days I would like to steal hours from Peter to pay Paul. Shorten the boring times and add precious hours to the reading time.
Which brings me back to Branding. Sometimes it takes a while to know your Brand, to understand how you want others to see you, to instantly know your work. The longstanding authors in RWA may have another take on this, but I see their Brand quite easily when I look at their new releases on FB. Anna Campbell and Annie West for example have clear Brands. I know what to expect when I read their work, just as I know what to expect from Jennie Jones and Rachael Johns. Amy Andrews’ Brand is evolving to my mind, and it’s exciting to read each new book to see where she will take me next. All of these fabulous authors have easily identifiable voices, and depending on my mood, I will choose a book to match.
My friends were very surprised that my latest short story did not have any love scenes. That made me smile. You see. I am already known for my “sexy times” in stories. I have been told I write sex well. My Brand is already out there and I have only published one short story in our 2015 Anthology.
I must say that before I joined MRWG, I wrote short stories across all genres. Erotica was very popular with my group of friends who were also my readers. Then paranormal and Sci-Fi, followed by general fiction. Of course they were all written in “tell”. I wasn’t aware of “show”.
I believe I am learning to craft my stories with the help of the MRWG. I am trying to master the Hook, and the Blurb, and although I have written one, I don’t believe mortals were supposed to easily grasp the intricacies or complexities of the dreaded Synopsis. Oh the pain!!!
My journey has only just begun, and I know I have many roads to travel, many adventures, many highs (hopefully not too many lows) on the authors’ path. It’s exciting. I am ready for the challenge. I have already met so many lovely people who have helped me to understand the wonderful and sometimes frightening life of a writer. And as each hand reaches down to pull me up to another level, my hand will descend to help those newbies below who are only just beginning. For to move forward, we must acknowledge all those who have gone before and who have laid the path, sharing their knowledge and making it easier for new authors to find their way.