Feb 11, 2013

Finding Your Author Self

Last week, at my writer's group, one of my CP's brought a shiny new first chapter. It was gorgeous and very different from what she had been working on. I just smiled the whole time I was reading it.  It sounded like her.

Before I started writing, most of what I read was YA.  Part of that is because I teach high schoolers who really don't like books, so I'm trying really hard to stay up on what is interesting to make suggestions for them, hoping if they can see there is one book they really liked, chances are there might be more.

When I decided I wanted to dabble in this writer thing, I first tried to write YA because that was what I read.  I struggled with every single aspect.  All my characters sounded the same, all the plot lines felt contrived and cliche.  It sucked.  At about this time, a seed of an idea started forming in the back of my mind.  It was impossible to make it work as YA, and trying was just making me angry. I'm a pretty stubborn person, but in a rare moment, I put that aside and listened to the story.

The writing process, for me, really started then.

Click to see larger

I found this character, an older woman, and felt a connection with her, her husband and sons, friends and trials.  It shocked me that I wasn't writing YA, and that this other story was working.

I took the first few pages to a small writer's workshop, excited for a critique, but also excited to hear what this published author would call what I was writing.

Contemporary Women's Lit.

Hmm. I didn't really know what that was. So I launched out in search of this genre I was somehow writing but knew nothing about.  I struggled to define it, figure out its nuances, etc.

Last night, when I was debating between reading a book or wasting more time on pinterest, I looked at the bookshelf above where I write and realized I had loved this genre for a long long time.  I just didn't know it.

People say all the time to write what you know, but sometimes we don't know what that is. Everyone has a story in them - some may have many. Pay attention to the story.  Listen to what the characters are trying to say.  Worry about how to categorize it after.  Chances are, though, when you are studying the elements of the genre you wrote, you will discover you loved it all along.



23 comments :

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't worry about the category when I was writing my books, although it is a genre I enjoy. Glad you found your niche, Tasha!

Jeff Hargett said...

Nice table. :-) Fortunately, my favorite genre/niche was fairly obvious.

Julie Luek said...

I agree, there are stories to be told that don't easily fit into a genre. Tell it anyway.

Elaine said...

So glad you've found your niche! And you had to know I'd love the periodic table. :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Funny how the stories find you, not the other way around!

J. A. Bennett said...

What an inspiration you are to be following your heart <3

Morgan said...

This was too fun!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Excellent post. I think sometimes as high school teachers it can be difficult to write YA because we're with teenagers all day, all YA fiction can seem unrealistic.

Nick Wilford said...

Definitely should be story first. Good for you to have found something you love doing!

Jessie Humphries said...

Find your characters and go with their stories! I agree :)

Andrew Leon said...

My opinion is just to write. Don't try to mold it into something that you think someone else wants, because, actually, what anyone else wants isn't important.

Connie Keller said...

I enjoyed your post, and the chart was very cool.

Nicole said...

Wise advice about paying attention to the story(ies) that speak to you. I liked the chart too!

Livia Peterson said...

Awesome advice, Tasha! I know what genre I prefer to write, but I haven't realized YET is this what I love most. It's a process. Just keep writing and categorizing can come later. :)

Angela Cothran said...

I love this story. Sometimes the stories inside us are surprising :)

Tamara said...

Glad you found where you belong. I had the opposite experience when I first started writing. I tried to write an adult book and it just wouldn't come.

I'd never even considered writing YA but I did the same thing as you. Looked on my bookshelves and realized every favorite book I had generally had a teenager MC--even if they weren't classic YA. It's nice to find your niche, isn't it?

Tia Bach said...

Interesting. I'm a confused reader, which often makes for a confused writer. Happily confused. My first book was women's fiction, and now I'm writing YA. I like stories about women the best, but I'm not picky on what genre is thrust upon them. (Although I could never write, nor do I rarely read, horror).

Enjoyed thinking about this. Wishing you the best of luck in whatever moves you!

Emily R. King said...

I was talking with a reader, not a writer, yesterday and I had to keep stopping and explaining the terms I was using to describe genres. To her, romance was romance. Part of my learning to write has been learning WHAT I'm writing. :)

Kelley Lynn said...

What a beautiful post! And so true. We have to write the story that is in us without trying to fit it into some pretty box of what we think it should be.

Charlie Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Warren said...

Interesting post and well stated. I have learned the same thing over time myself.

David P. King said...

Much food for thought here, Tasha. Sometimes, you never know that the genre you should be writing is the one you are not. That's been my lesson. I thought I would make the scene with science fiction. Never thought fantasy would get me there. :)

Jess Stork said...

This is so true, Tasha! I stumbled around writing YA, picture books and even more laughably, lit fiction, until one day I realized that I read an awful lot of middle grade kids books, and that someone has to write these books, and that someone could be me. Glad you found your niche!