A HERO'S SPARK: the final book in the Wicked Women series!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Discovering the talents others see in you.

Good morning!

I reread yesterday's blog...rant...and realized that when I write angry, it might be fun, but I do tend to drift a little from the purpose of my writing.  Hopefully I get back on track today!

When I was fourteen I set out to write the Great American Novel.  I had images of Pulitzers, Nobels, National Book Awards and, yes, Newberry medals.  All for the same novel.  I envisioned long lines at book signings, my picture on a book jacket, people stopping me in restaurants asking for my autograph.  Of course I saw my magnificent novel at the top of the New York Times best seller list.

Heady stuff for a fourteen year old living in central Wisconsin in the 80's. 

That novel that I set out to write almost 30 years ago is the one I currently call Lies in Chance, and it's gone through rounds and rounds of rejections.  I wear those rejections as a badge of honor, as every writer should.  It means we're working.  My first novel, Dream in Color, is my pride and joy, of course, and I love my work with The Wild Rose Press.  But it's a little book from a little press and I've had to do much of the legwork.  I've done book signings, and will continue to do more, but there aren't long lines.  There are customers looking for Nora Roberts' latest who stop by my table because I have candy.  I love meeting new people so I'm not complaining.

Meanwhile, I'm avoiding the fact that novel #3 simply isn't working well for me.  What I saw so clearly a year ago is now muddied, and my characters aren't all that interesting yet.  Yet, I know I can write a good story.  I've done it.  Twice.  One is published, one will be, and the third one will get written if it kills me.  I love the challenge of writing fiction.  It's hard work, but it's work that I love doing because not that many people do it, and even fewer admit to doing it.  So I bang away at fiction, praying my dreams of grandeur will still come true.

And then there's the writing I do for the absolute joy of it all.  I have another blog, a fun blog, It Can Only Happen To Sarah.  This is where I write my musings about real life, about the way I see things in my little world, and about things that happen to me that could only happen to little old me.

I crank those tales out several times a month.  It's fun, it's easy, and it makes me happy.  But do I think of it as a talent?

Not a chance.

I've been writing that sort of stuff for ages.  I think it started when I was 13 and I started keeping a diary...some of the entries, as I look back, are full of teen drama and angst, perfect for a novelist.  Others are simply the viewpoint of a goofy kid who sees things just a little differently than everyone else and isn't afraid to discuss it.  I don't think of it as a talent, I simply think of it as stuff I say to fill the quiet spaces in my day.

My mother was the first person to tell me that that's how I should write.  I've long been a fan of the late great Erma Bombeck, and my mother has said since I was young that my best writing is this slice of life writing.

But, I argue, that's not writing, that's not work, that's NOT TALENT!  I'm a fiction writer who has fun yakking about silly things that happen to me.

My mother is crazy, right?

And then others started to say the same thing.  So much so, in fact, that I'm starting to wonder if I should abandon fiction, at least for now, and look into publishing my goofy life instead.  Over the years I've sort of titled collections of stories, "Stretchmarks are just the Beginning"  (Stories about my pregnancies, birthings, and raising small kids)  "Growing up in the house of Danny and Donna Dull" (My childhood stories)  "Stalking Rick Springfield and other Habits of the Middle Aged Suburban woman."  (I think that's self explanatory.)  "Confessions of a Crazed Candle Lady"  (Stories from my years of selling Party lite Candles.)

But other than fun titles, I ask myself, is there any substance there?  I know people will read fiction because everyone loves a good story.  And a talented writer tells a good story.  But is this a talent, these snippets of humor from my completely normal life?

Some say so.  I'd be interested in what you all think.  Take a look at It Can Only Happen to Sarah  Read a couple posts.  Do you agree with my mom?

And if you do, turn that question to yourself and your writing career.  Does your writing talent lie in a genre other than the one you're working on?  Sure, everyone wants to write that legal thriller, or the literary novel that Oprah loves.  But maybe your talent leans more toward the historical romance that steams up beach readers.  Maybe you should stop working on a cook book and finish that epic humor novel  (I put that in there for a certain friend of mine...he knows who he is!)  Or, maybe you're destined to write the cook book that outshines all others.

Open up your writing to others.  See what they say.  Sometimes others see talents in you that you don't see yourself.

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