I started writing this post six years ago; amusingly, it’s just as true today as it was then. Including the part about the person asking me if I’d written the book. I’ll be spending the next six weeks rewriting a novella as part of the Clarion West Write-a-thon. Please stop by the Write-a-thon website to support me (or one of the other 250 writers) as we “write it forward” to make it possible for other writers to attend Clarion West.
The answer is yes…and no.
In the past 20 years, I’ve written one novella and several short stories. I’ve also started several book projects.
For many aspiring fiction writers, the problem is story, or plot, or simply putting words on the blank page or screen.
For me, the problem is tone. Each of my fiction projects has a different tone, but (until after I studied at Viable Paradise last fall) none of them seemed to be my tone. I’ve seen this in the work of other writers who achieve a distinctive tone when working in a particular sub-genre but somehow “gray out” into blandness when they tackle a different type of story. I think that I’m only just now finding my sub-genre.
Meanwhile, people telling me to “write what people will want to buy” isn’t helpful.
It makes me think of a New Yorker “About Town” piece from many years back about novelist Larry McMurtry. His mother once attended a public reading he was giving and rose from audience to ask McMurtry why he wrote such “depressing” stories. His reply:
“I’m writing for me, Mom, not for you.”