Monday, August 02, 2010

What's your line in the sand?


I actually dragged myself to the public library and took out some books recommended by some bloggers this past month. A variety of genre.

Then I sat down and read them all.

Do you know what I found out besides the knowledge that I need to read more?

I don’t like reading the style of writing I was trying to write. I love stories with some personal background woven in it, some memories filtered through the dialogue, some real emotions—not the heart pounding, lump in the throat kind of sentences with only action and very little else.

I love good women’s fiction with some threads of romance.

What did all this mean to me as a writer?

It meant taking a harder look at what I have been trying to achieve. A book ago, I wrote a woman’s fiction and loved it. My heart fell into it and I wrote with a never ending desire. Then I found out contemporary women’s fiction isn’t selling. So I pulled out an old romance—what I thought I once liked to write—and revamped it.

What I did is called writing for the market. What I ended up with is a nice book but not one I’m convicted about. The kind of book that if someone stopped me in an elevator and asked me about it I’d not really know what to say. So I went back in and tried to add in the stuff I love. I tried to make it mine—not a generic romance.

It helped. But I still have this sinking sensation that it isn’t where it should be for me.

So I’ve drawn a line in the sand.

I started a new book and I’m forcing myself to write what I love. Or delete it all. When we don’t write for the market, it might mean a longer wait for publication. I finally accept that. But it also might mean more pride in my work.

What’s your line in the sand?

43 comments:

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Yeah, you're writing what you love! You know I'm cheering for that.
~ Wendy

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

wow, Terri, you are doing an impressive self-evaluation of your work. What a dedication!

(((( hugs ))))
Doris Plaster, a social worker's blog

Tabitha Bird said...

My line in the sand is always 'write what is in my heart' I know no other way. So go you! Write that book you love. :)

Jen said...

I first write for myself and then I write for my readers, I don't worry about what's on the market because I know if my novel is good enough it won't matter that it isn't about Vampires.

I thought I enjoyed writing chick lits, when in fact it was a starting point for me, I loved to read them and thought I'd be good at it, but I'll leave it to the experts :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri,
My line in the sand is to write with authenticity even if it hurts. I am a multi genre writer, so I try to incorporate that philosophy into everything I write, especially free verse poetry and personal essay. I too have some dust catchers I am not busting my britches proud of and need to tweak. Must write for the markets, for sure, but can;t get into the vampire stuff thatis so popular right now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri,
Linda O'Connell, Write form the Heart at http://lindaoconnell.blogspot.com wrote the above comment.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Well, I think all that helps you grow as a writer and in finding your voice and niche.
Now you know exactly the kind of stories that will drive you to write.
And that's a good thing. :)
You go, girl!

kathy taylor said...

Wow! What an epiphany! My recently completed manuscript is also women's lit - actually a family saga. I'm happy to move on to a genre - YA - that I've read and taught. It makes me feel as though I am back at school, and I am hoping it will be a bridge connecting "what I was" to "what I want to be." It's so cool that you created a romance from a your work.

Nehha N Josshi said...

Pride in one's work is the most important factor, if you want a good night's sleep! Glad to know that you've drawn a line:)

Amie B said...

You have such great insight!

It's so important to write what you love. I do it all the time...even if it means it's not a "hot trend" on the market.

Shirley said...

I'm glad to hear that you've opted to write what you love. People are fickle. Tides turn. Markets change.

As for a line drawn in the sand, I'm struggling with that myself. Long story though.

Hugs and happy writing!

patti said...

Yayyyyy! Does that mean you've joined forces with me, a women's fiction writer??!!!!


HOOORAY!!!

My line in the sand? Write for the Audience of One. Write those stories He lays on my heart. Period.

That makes the line really clear.

BTW, stay tuned for an announcement at my place. Women's fiction can sell.

P

Susan Roux said...

Good for you! As a painter I struggle with the same thing. Once I finally got represented by galleries, I no longer painted for me, I painted for them! After awhile I couldn't even see myself in my work anymore. Its a hard thing to just follow your heart and block out that voice that's telling you how to please others. This is one place that, I think, pleasing yourself is a positive step towards enhancing your given "gift".

Finally a place where its ok to be selfish... Good luck!

Paul Greci said...

I think I'd have a have hard time writing a story I wasn't passionate about.

Some people say write from your heart but with the awareness of who your audience is.

Lin Floyd said...

I don't write to be published but just for my family and any other interested individuals so I write what I want to not what sells. True freedom!

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Whoops, made a mistake in that last comment. Sorry.

I never write anything just because I think it's something popular that will sell. If I write something and can sell it, great. If it doesn't sell, at least I have a part of me on paper.

Truly, I write straight from my heart, which is also the title of my blog!

Susan

Rhonda (a.k.a. The Lively One) said...

Kudos!! Love it! I think if you write what you love, sooner or later...doors will open.

Blessings and wishes for open doors,

Rhonda

Jolene said...

I started writing simply for fun. As soon as it feels like a job or something I have to do I'm going to set it aside for a while. If I'm not writing what I love, there's no point in writing.
Thanks for sharing.

Diane said...

Hope you have a great and productive week! :O)

Travis Erwin said...

Good for you. If you don't love it it is hard to convince anyone else that they should.

Melissa Marsh said...

Always write what you love. If you make a career out of writing what sells and you DON'T love it, I think you'll end up one very unhappy person.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Wow, how did you get into my brain, Terri? I have considered writing for the market, but, ah... what you said. My heart would not be in it, therefore it would lay flat on the page, not soar in the clouds and make the reader sing.

I think it's Marlene Bagnull who says, "What would you like to give to Jesus they day you meet Him face to face?" I thought of the book I wrote from my heart, the first one. It's full of stories of His grace. I think He'd like that, even if no one else does.

I love your heart for truth.

Heidi Willis said...

I went through the same thing.

I don't think writing for a market is a bad thing if you need to make money and have a job out of writing. But then you have to realize it's a job, and not just a passion.

Also, I think a reader (including agents and editors) can tell if you love what you're writing. You're more likely to sell what you love writing than what you don't.

Katie Ganshert said...

I always write what I love too, which is contemporary romance. Sadly, it's not selling that great right now. But it's what I write, so I'm just going to stick with it. I hope you fall madly in love with this new story, Terri!

Lydia Kang said...

Good. For. You.
!!!
That's a huge distinction to make, and one I've struggled with too. My first book was about the market, and a story I liked a lot but didn't totally adore.
Now I'm writing stories I truly want to grab off a bookshelf. Feels good, doesn't it?
:)

ginny said...

Just stopping by to say hello and to let you know that I have been thinking about you.
I hope you are doing ok. I had this huge talk with my next door neighbor last evening. We shared a bottle of wine, cheese and strawberries and she told me that they were filing bankruptcy. Her husband lost his job 5 yrs. ago and all he could find was a drivers training job. She is sole support for her family and they are in a hole. I cried for her, but did not tell her of our plight. It would not solve anything. I am so tired of this stupid economy. So many people are hurting. My heart actually hurts these days.
Know my prayers are still there...

Kenda said...

I think writing what you love says you are writing something special--since only you can write it! So that's the best place to start. Thanks for the reminder that we start with what's in our hearts...

Sally said...

My line in the sand is to be content. Philippians 4:11 is what I'm striving for in my writing and all aspects of my life. Funny how it can be so hard to find

T. Anne said...

Oh big moment for you! I drew that line in the sand years ago and have had a hard time staying on the 'write' side of it. It's a challenge but an important one. I'm proud of you girl!

Jan Cline said...

I started writing what I loved, not even knowing it was what the market was wanting. Historical romance will not be "in" forever, but I also like to write other genres. I think it's great that you are searching your heart.

Tamika: said...

Terri, thanks for sharing this. I wondered what to do with a few of my stories worrying about the current market. But no matter what, I can't write a vampire bestseller so I might as well write what I love:)

Karen Lange said...

Good question! I need to think about it. More than likely I'll blog about it when I figure it all out:)

Glad you are defining things and moving ahead.
Blessings,
Karen

Amy Tate said...

Oh, what good stuff, Miss Terri! Forget what the market says. By the time your book goes to press, things will be different. Write what you love, lady! I'll buy it no matter what.

Michelle Massaro said...

Thank you for writing this. When I wrote my novel I wrote the story that was in my heart and I am passionate about it. Since completing it and beginning the process of seeking publication, I am only at this point learning about things like what's hot in the market right now, etc. I can see myself easily falling into the exact same trap you did! You may have just saved me months of wasted time and unfullfilled story-telling. Thank you! =)

Journaling Woman said...

I am so proud of you. You are an inspiration to others while finding your voice and passion. I call you a wise woman.

Jill said...

I have more opinions and more lines drawn in the sand than your average person. I don't know why that is, but this tendency makes me a little disagreeable toward trends and rules, and a little obsessive-compulsive, too. So, yeah, I'm going to write the books that I want to write, that spring from my heart. I'm glad that you're willing to write what's in your heart, too (though I'm not saying you're disagreeable; that's my particular personality problem).

Lynda Young said...

Writing for the market can be a difficult thing. I don't recommend it if that's not where your heart is. I've tried and failed. Some people can pull it off, but not everyone.
W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

Pat's Place said...

Sounds like you are writing what is authentically YOU! That should bring about a best-seller--eventually! I doubt if many authors could write a best-seller if their hearts were in what they were writing. Hang in there! It will work--eventually!

Cassandra Frear said...

Good writing makes it's own market. You're on the right path here. Follow your passion.

For me, it's truth. I won't write things that aren't true. Not for any reason. I'll wash dishes instead.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I've been exactly where you are, and after a while I finally found a publisher. Stand by your convictions. You won't be sorry. :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Terri..my line in the sand is 'write the story in my heart with a never seen before passion, give it my best and leave the rest to God.'
I know how every one nowadays writes with an eye on the market,else the wait for publication is really a long one.

Heckety said...

This is brave- and also honest. Isn't there a line in Shakespeare 'To thine own self be true...hang on till I find it...
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Consider, if you are not totally engrossed by your work a) you'll not be proud of it b) you'll not be confident marketing it and c) your readers might lose interest.

Having said that, I have wrestled long and hard with this very question, and have come to the conclusion that I have to write from my own heart, and as long as I'm doing God's plan then the outcome will be in His hands- there will be a reason for it. If I write what I think will sell and my heart is not there, then what is the point, and if its agin God's plan it won't succeed anyhow.