Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 • 6 Comments on A Change in Direction
I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing career lately. Which is good, since I’m not writing much right now. (This song is on repeat, isn’t it?) Between the hit the publishing world has taken in this economy and the fact that pregnancy seems to have utterly sapped my creative energy, I’ve had a lot to think about.
I’ve been focusing on erotica (and, more recently, erotic romance) for the past several years. I’m not even close to being in the same league with the likes of Alison Tyler or Thomas Roche in terms of how prolific I am, but I think I’m doing okay. Slow and sure, that’s me. Hey, I’ll never be a superstar. I know that. I don’t have the persona or the marketing skills in the first place; and in the second place, I’m just not a phenomenal writer. That’s not modesty, it’s just something I know after years of being at this game. But I’m a good writer. I’m reliable; I turn things in on deadline; I’m not a diva; I have steadily built good working relationships with a handful of fabulous editors. This is not a bad kind of writer to be, but I would like to be more. Wouldn’t we all?
I’m always trying to push myself outside my comfort zone to write something new and different. (Sommer has a great selection of links for new writing markets to try.) I’ve done that a lot this year, as evidenced by the increase in rejection letters I’ve received. But rejection is good! (So I tell myself.) It means I’m pushing myself to be a better writer and not just coasting along. I’m a notorious coaster, you see. Still, despite my coasting tendencies, I’ve been feeling vaguely dissatisfied for awhile now about where I am. Short fiction has its limitations and word on the street is that the market is tightening up for erotica novels. What’s an erotica writer to do?
I came at this dilemma sideways a few months ago. After having stories in 75+ anthologies, I’m editing my first collection of erotica. (Reminder: Deadline is August 15!) I’m proud of that accomplishment, since it wasn’t even on my radar when I made my writing goals for this year. The cool thing about being an editor is that it’s not all about showcasing my own writing. (That thing I suck at.) It’s about putting together a book of wonderful stories that complement each other. It’s also about delightedly discovering new (or new to me) authors and being honored to feature authors whose writing I’ve adored for years. It’s this amazing collaboration of voices that just feels right to me. With the exception of some of the crazy queries I’ve been getting (which seems to be par for the editing course), I’m enjoying the experience and hope to keeping editing anthologies.
Despite this new and exciting foray into editing, I’m still not satisfied. I haven’t yet figured out how to satisfy my hunger as a writer. More than one person has suggested I write about my pregnancy/motherhood experiences and I suppose that’s a possibility. I do seem to be blogging about pregnancy more than I blog about writing. But part of that is because it’s the current focus in my life, so who knows if I will have the energy to continue down that path once pregnancy gives way to the demands of motherhood. (Also, I’m not exactly the edgy, hip mommy writer type.) It’s something to consider.
There are still novels to be written. Though now I’m contemplating whether I should put aside the “sure thing” ideas (which no longer seem so sure) and focus on those that are strange and quirky and not likely to ever find a home, but which amuse me to write. How do I distinguish between the two? The sure thing books are the ones I can sum up in a sentence or two—the ones that I’ve clearly thought about marketing (to the degree that I ever think about marketing). The quirky books can’t be summarized so easily. I try to boil it down to a sentence or two and end up with a couple of paragraphs followed by an asterisk which reads: “Plus, there’s more.” Ha ha, right? No, I’m serious.
I don’t know which way this change of direction will take me. I’ve been here before, though perhaps not in such a definitive way. I haven’t stopped writing erotica though I’m definitely writing less of it these days. I’m still writing erotic romance, though there are fewer markets for it. I’m playing with some nonfiction ideas (including an anthology I would like to edit) and trying to figure out which novel should be the novel I focus on for the remainder of the year. If I ever get my brain back and can focus on writing, that is.
Next year is a big question mark. I’m new to this motherhood thing, but I keep hearing I’ll be exhausted and have no time to myself to do anything. We’ll see. If nothing else, I think my writing style will definitely require some serious adjustments in the coming years. Writing with baby. That’s doable, right? (Please tell me it is. Lie to me if you have to.)
Change is good. Now, I just have to figure out what I’m changing before all I’m changing are diapers.