Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Should Have Seen That Coming

I don't know about you, but I've been writing for a long time...since I was ten years old or something. I was serious about writing, even then. I was talking to a friend this morning and told her about my first story I wrote in junior high. It was called Me, the Spy, and it was about, well, a spy. It's also illustrated by me. I wish I had the book with me so I could take a picture for you, but alas, it's buried in a box somewhere at my parent's house. I need to dig it up! Then, soon after Me, the Spy came another little book. I can't remember the title of this book, but it was about a mermaid. As I was telling my friend this, it struck me that over half my life ago I was doing exactly what I'm doing now. I was mixing my genres. First came the spy book (that would be Monarch today) ... then the fantasy book (that would be Cinders today - a little different than a mermaid, but still in the same fantasy vein).

Yep, should have seen that coming from a million miles away.

I also look at the choices I've made publishing-wise. First I sampled the self-publishing path, and now I'm with a traditional publisher. They are a smaller publisher, at the moment balancing between small and mid-sized. They aren't huge. They aren't Big Six. They fit me like a glove because, looking back on my life, I've never chosen the well-trodden paths. I'm always wandering off into the forest in search of something not necessarily grand, but special and unique to me. Grand...for me!

Sometimes I think we forget about where we're coming from, about what has made us who we are. Even back in my childhood, I obviously loved stories as stories instead of stories as genres. I never stuck in one vein, so it would seem crazy, so many years later, to go against something that has been inside me for so long.

Oh, and after that mermaid book I mentioned above, came a detective story about a cat. Maybe that's where I'll go next in my writing adventure. No, Scott, that wouldn't mean I'm copying you. *cough*

My point today is that sometimes we don't change. At all. As much as I try to fight parts of who I am, it's pretty pointless to even try. And why would I want to? It seems the older I get the more I learn to embrace different parts of myself - parts I used to be ashamed of for very silly reasons like outside pressures.

Is there anything you've been fighting about yourself writing-wise?


  1. I've always been more of a reader than a writer.

    This whole writing gig came to me as a surprise (my parents, friends et al have always been telling me I should become a writer, but I ignored them), and I still can't believe I write stories.

  2. Great post! I wish I still had some of the stories I wrote when I was younger. Like you, I've been writing since I could put pen to paper. I had a lot of false starts before completing my first and most awful novel. I wish I'd saved them all.

    I don't think I really fight with myself over anything, writing-wise. Well, I did try to write a crime novel, and though I think it's decent, I don't think I could ever make it publishing material (though a few friends would disagree - they're biased). I mostly stick to women's fiction because it comes naturally.

    I know exactly what you mean, though, about stuggling against who you are. I did it for years and years, and it wasn't until after my separation and eventual divorce from my ex that I realized I'd ALWAYS altered my personality to make others happy. My husband has shown me how unnecessary that is, so it's a rare thing for me to do, in any area of my life.

  3. Virtually everything I write is compromise after a long battle with myself.

  4. Damyanti: Well, I suppose it can go the other way, too, then! Some things we shouldn't hold onto, especially if it opens a new door!

    April: I certainly stick to what comes naturally, as well, and it's just nothing but Bad Stuff when I don't, lol. I've always been in the altering phase of trying to please others, and it's high time I stopped. I'm glad you've found such a great place!

    Nevets: That's maybe not a bad thing because you write such psychological stuff. It probably wouldn't be nearly as good without that battle first. :)

  5. I think, in the end, most of my stories are about the struggle within myself about the story.


  6. My first story that was rejected for publication, titled The Mummy Bee, I wrote when I was 8, and I believe it was 8-16 pages long. I don't even know where it is but I'm sure my mom kept it!!

    I don't think I've fought much against myself either, which I a good thing. I tend to be a grump when I do. Great post, Michelle!

  7. Ha ha. I always get just a little disappointed when I realize how little I've changed, or how my tastes end up going in circles. I'm not disappointed with myself, but it strikes me that I work so hard just to realize I wasn't really trying to go anywhere! More and more my journey seems to be toward the clarification of what I'm trying to achieve. I try to be more sensitive to that younger version of me that is too easily pushed aside.

  8. I really hate that I can start off by saying stuff like, "As I get older, I come to realize..."

    As I get older, I come to realize that a great deal of my tastes and worldview are based on whatever strong influences were around when I was a kid. Habits and culture get imprinted on our young minds and we don't usually stray too far from them, maybe. When I was a kid, I would make up stories. They tended to be tragic adventures. So huh. Look at me now.

    Michelle: I would love it if you wrote a detective novel! As you, Domey and I discussed yesterday, after I finish my detective novel, I'm going to write about unicorns!

  9. "Is there anything you've been fighting about yourself writing-wise?"

    Distractions. "Oooooo, shinny!"

    The creative process requires discipline yet the creative mind rebels against it.

    It's all good for me. I've paid my dues.

    For others, however, it causes people, especially writers, to occasionally freak-out.

  10. Leah: The Mummy Bee is a great title! That gets me asking all sorts of questions! I'm a grump when I fight against myself, too, and that's why so many of my posts lately on my other blog have been whiny and kind of lame even though people say they're helpful. :)

    Domey: I really love your comment, thank you! It is about clarification more than anything else, absolutely.

    Scott: Oh, that phrase about getting older makes you sound all wise and important, which you are! So live it up. :)

    I've heard from other places what you say here, too, about imprinting on our young minds. I've found more and more that the things I write about can all be traced back to something in my past before I was ten years old. Or somewhere around there.

    You'd better write that unicorn book. :)

    Anthony: Freaking out is a must in this business. Right?

  11. I always let my imagination run riot, dreamed of escape and making people laugh.

    Now I write Comedy SF.


  12. When I first decided to write a children's book I thought it was like slumming it, and that I would only try one and then go back to grown-up material, because that's more respectable.

    Along the way I learned that all of the elements that make a good adult novel- compelling plots, likable characters, consistency in how characters talk / act / react, and story arcs with good motivation and resolution, etc. - all of these traits apply to children's books too.

  13. There is a confluence of accepting who I am as a person and who I am as a writer. After a lifetime of trying to "fit in," be it an ethnic group, social circle or literary genre, I am accepting that I am defined by my multiplicity. As I said in my blog,

    does not describe me fully
    it is where to start

    Now that does not make marketing my literary work easy. Like social groups, commercial publishing prefers easily filled boxes.

    I am still seeking answers. I don't have them yet, but the wide-open internet has allowed me to believe that there is a place where someone like me who produces the work I do can find an audience.

    Of course, the internet has its own boxes too, but somehow there appears to be room for more boxes.

  14. I recently came back to writing a story I started in high school. Well, it's more than a story, it's an entire world I started crafting full of characters that I'm just now expanding on.

    I do fight myself over style. I write a lot of stuff about quiet strengths from people who aren't strong and in control who are just trying to survive. It sort of makes me worry that I'm only a one trick pony and that people will take it the wrong way once it's out there, but I've found there's no point fighting it. I've written on the same thing since I was in high school really.

  15. Martin: Go figure! Hehe. :)

    Rick: That's true. Good storytelling is good storytelling. Doesn't matter the genre!

    Judith: I feel like I'm seeking answers, too, and that it won't ever end. I'm not sure that's a bad thing, though. I learn a lot doing this. :)

    N.M.: We've talked about this before on the lab, I think - about writing the same things over and over in our fiction. I can't remember what we came up with, but I believe we agreed that it's not a bad thing. It's part of voice and themes, in a way, that creates fan bases and what people love about your writing - more than about being a one-trick pony.

    So yeah, don't fight it! Just learn how to put different spins and angles on it. That's what good storytelling is. :)

  16. As you already know, my love for mermaids started when I was like 2, so I guess I didn't change either.

    I love that this beautiful post was the result of our fun conversations about our childhoods. :)


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