6/02/2012

Who am I as a Writer? (And Who are You?)

A blogging friend alerted me to a 31-day scrapbooking challenge with Ali Edwards. I've always been a fan of Ali's, and have bought all of her books. The challenge is less about scrapbooking our memories via photos than it is about journaling. Each day over 31 days, we are given a single-word writing prompt. The challenge is to take a photo that represents the meaning of the word to us. But more than that, to do some serious journaling about what the word means to us. Well, as serious as you can be, considering you have space for about 400 words, max, for each prompt.

I began the challenge a week late, however after seeing the list of writing prompts, I realized I could do it at my own pace, without having to wait for her daily emails. Passionately energized by the idea, maybe a little obsessed, I completed the entire 31-Day scrapbook over Memorial Day weekend.

The challenge was a perfect solution for me. I had longed to get involved with a 365-Photo-a-Day challenge, and had indeed started one in April. But after two weeks, I saw how wonderful it would be to explore, but also that I didn't have time for a project THAT ENORMOUS.

The 31-Day challenge, which I completed in four days, was the perfect size. Why did I want to do it at all? I'm two months away from leaving one full time career, and lifestyle, before taking up another that will be as different to me as night and day. To go from a wildly social life to one that is more hermit-like. I wanted to explore my thoughts and feelings about leaving the old, as well as my hopes and fears about the new.

One of the one-word writing prompts was: YOU. Who am I?

Well, I am definitely not a professional photographer, but I am a serious student of color and of scrapbooking.

I am also a serious writer.
But as a writer, who am I?

Right now, I just don't know anymore. Being a librarian, I buy and later see all the YA books being released to the reading public. As well, I'm well aware of what's being sold, via agent reportage, via Publishers Marketplace. These are the books that will be released in about two years.

I'm not so hot on the current and future YA market, that is filled with, as everyone knows, vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, paranormals. Every stripe of dystopia. Truly crazy-sounding, high-concept ideas that instead of intriguing me, make me want to say, "Oh, come on. Seriously?"

Though I am supposed to be revising a contemporary realistic Young Adult novel, I am more comfortable with the story lines of inspirational romance. I used to be such a snob about romance! But the market has truly changed and, obviously, so have I.

I've been reading a lot of Harlequin Love Inspired Historicals. I truly respect the genre. The quality of writing in pretty darned good. It's not literary, but it never pretended to be. There's a wide variety of time periods and settings, and each one delivers a terrific, sweet love story. There is also an aspect of faith, but it's not heavy-handed. And, the heroes and heroines are very realistic, flawed people. These are definitely not fairy tales, and I like that about them.

So my current writing conundrum is this: Who am I as a writer? Which manuscript should I be spending my still-limited writing time on? The YA manuscript that is in need of a bit of further revision? Or the Harlequin Inspired Historical novel that I began plotting last January, but haven't looked at since?

What road do I want to travel and eventually find myself on? I think I would much rather, God willing, find myself among the writers of Harlequin Love Inspired novels.

If you are a writer, do you ever wonder if you're writing in the genre where you truly belong? Or do you always feel completely comfortable, completely confident, with the type of story that you are writing?


4 comments:

  1. Cute picture!!!

    You completed the project in four days?! I am in awe. I have only completed day one :( However....there has been plenty of drama in our household these past two weeks that I hope will dissipate soon. You have given me hope that I can indeed get back on track.

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  2. This is a really interesting post, Cathy! I hope that whichever you decide on--revising your YA or working on your new inspirational romance--you find loads of joy in the writing!

    I feel very comfortable with the decisions I've made as far as writing goes. I enjoy reading historical fiction, fantasy adventures, and magical realism more than any other kinds of books, and I find that's what I want to write, too! The other day, my husband had his students in his creative non-fiction class make a list of the subjects they are "experts" on (he defined an expert as someone who knows a lot more about something than the average person). The subjects on their lists ranged from an Italian dish (a single dish--the expert said he wasn't an expert on all Italian foods) to race cars. They now have this list to refer to when they have an creative assignment to fulfill, but are also experiencing writer's block. Anyhow, I had heard about this exercise before--even heard that this is a good exercise for all writers--so I did it too. And I discovered that the things I'm an "expert" on really fit the genres in which I've chosen to write. I had also heard that it's a good idea to consider our talents when we're writing. For example, if you know you're good at witty banter, well, throw plenty of it into your story! Of course, these things can be overdone. I feel like I'm good at setting descriptions, but if that were my entire story...wait a minute! It is my entire story! ;)

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  3. The greatest love story ever written is the Bible. It details the length and breadth of God's sacrificial love for man.

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