Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Your Identity as a Writer

I'm writing a new novel these days but I can't say that I will ever ballyhoo it here. Why, you ask? Because the readers who have read the Mary Ryan mysteries or the Austen pastiche would flee screaming into the hills if I wrote this book under my real name. It's a "New Adult" novel, primarily catering to the market between 20-35. So there is casual sex, lots of swearing, drinking, and drug use (maybe, not sure about that part yet, except my 20-something kids tell me that pot use is rampant, so I need to shoehorn that in somewhere). It's written from two male POVs. It's sort of a mystery but not, and I'll probably have a bitch of a time trying to sell it.

So why am I writing it? And, more importantly, why am I spending so much effort to get it finished when its place in a market is debatable, it doesn't piggyback off of my current readership, and if the targeted readership knew that this was a 58-year-old women writing, they'd flee screaming into the hills.

Because it's there. Because I had an idea and I wanted to write from a male POV and I wanted to play with different POVs. And I wanted to feature people drinking, smoking, swearing, and having casual sex without alienating a bunch of readers. I wanted to write semi-graphic sex scenes. In short, I wanted to play with words.

I've reached the sad truth that I will never become rich and famous from writing. I don't write a book a year. I can't write a book a year. That day job thing. So I've decided to write what I want to write. In this No-Name book, I'm writing in a different gender and from two different POVs. This forces me to change the pacing, language, and feel of the two protagonists as I shift from chapter to chapter. It's not merely a question of changing the names. Both of these characters are wildly different, and the writing itself has to reflect that. One character is acerbic and formal-ish, and the language for his chapters reflects that. The language is more nuanced. More commas, believe it or not. The second protagonist is a simpler, nicer person. His chapter has shorter sentences and is less "verbose" if you will. This leads to two "voices" and a juggling act in regards to pacing.

It's been challenging and, I think, has moved me forward as a writer. I started this out by writing it in first person POV. That seems "thin." Then I thought, well, why not two POVs? So I kept one POV in first person and the second I moved to a third person POV. Still wasn't right. A year later, I finally found myself with two POVs in third person. I rewrote the beginning 30,000 words something like five times before it "clicked" into a shape that I could move forward. I'm at over 60,000 and hope to finish it up shortly. I'm not sure that this story will find a home anywhere in the publishing world, but I took some chances, and I think I benefitted as a writer from those chances.

Pseudonym for sale?

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