This Writer's Life · Writing

Follow Your Muse.

Recently, as I was making enquires into having my short stories professionally edited (yes, I’m finally making this big step forward), one asked what genre they were in. This was an interesting question because I really had to think about my answer. Lately, my writing tends to be a variety of different genres.

When I asked my husband, this is how the conversation turned out:

‘What genre would you say my writing is?’

‘Dark’.

‘That’s not a genre’.

‘Okay. Macabre’.

‘That’s not a genre either’.

As you can see, this was not getting me anywhere! In the end, I put the genres of my short stories down to paranormal, crime and general fiction.

This question certainly gave me pause for thought, because lately, I have been wondering this myself. Many years ago, when I first began writing, I recall reading somewhere that in order to write I needed to read and read widely. So, I took up that advice, which is why now, I’m finding it difficult to place my writing into just one ‘box’. This demonstrates another good advantage to indie publishing, as one has the freedom to experiment with their writing.

Of course, all this thinking can be seen as another stalling tactic. Who me, overthink things? My fear is so great that I am using my writing as an excuse to prevent myself from moving forward. I also believe that platform anxiety has also played its part.

I truly do envy writers who write in one genre; at least they know which way their muse is taking them. For writers like me, I’m still finding my way. So, for now, I have decided that I should just go wherever my muse takes me. All I know for certain is that my muse prefers to take me down some dark, deserted paths. 😉

Do you follow wherever your muse takes you? Do you find your writing fits in more than one ‘box’? If you write in more than one genre, do you use a pen name or stick with what you’re already using?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

Inspiration · This Writer's Life · Up Close & Personal

A Special Place.

A Special PlaceAs a child, my family and I would make regular trips down the south coast of New South Wales. I enjoyed being outside, and despite my fair skin, would spend many hours under the hot, Australian sun.

Back then, the caravan park in which we stayed was basic in its facilities. Toilets were little more than a hole in the ground. We were thankful for electricity, but we cooked on a gas stove until we eventually ‘upgraded’ and installed an old fashioned fuel stove outside. To have a hot shower, one needed to be quick; one needed to place a certain amount of money into a machine to get a hot shower that lasted five minutes. You needed to keep your eye on the clock and have a steady supply of loose change.

Campers could camp anywhere, and our caravan was perfectly situated directly opposite the beach. It was not uncommon to spend the morning at the beach, go back ‘home’ when you were hungry and then back to the beach again.

To break this monotony, my sisters and I would go for walks with our mother, either exploring rock pools or go on bush walks. It was here that I discovered the wonders of the Australian bush. One regular spot we would visit was a magical place for me. The trees were so tall and closely compacted, that it allowed very little sunlight to filter through. Images of Hansel and Gretel or strange beasts lurking further amongst the shadows entered my mind. We would always stop at one particular place and turn back, yet I always wondered what lay beyond in the distance, where the darkness seemed to go on indefinitely. The atmosphere and the silence fueled my imagination and I was always disappointed to turn back towards civilisation.

On the drive back to our true home in suburban Sydney, we would pass acres of farmland, and I could never decide where I wanted to live; country, bush or beach. I have since lived in the bush of the Blue Mountains and currently reside in the country (my last home the beach?), but there has always been the certainty that being out with nature is my special place. As a writer I enjoy the silence, being alone with my thoughts and my muse. Over the years I have discovered that setting and sense of place is important to my stories. These days, whenever I need to feel inspired, I just have to walk out my back door.

Do you have a special place? Do you enjoy the outdoors; maybe even ‘roughing it’? If you’re a writer, what do you do to find your ‘muse’? What do you prefer – the bush, the beach or the country?

Image by Debbie Johansson

This Writer's Life · Writing

How Productive a Writer are You?

I’ve always admired productive authors; I find they are a great source of inspiration for me to keep pursuing a writing career.  I envy them their imaginative drive, hoping one day I can do the same.  Since this article came out from the New York Times, there has been some talk that writing one book a year is not enough.

Like other readers, I can become impatient for the next book by an author, particularly books within a series.  However, if I have read a particular author’s work before and know to expect good quality, then I am happy to wait for it.  As a writer, I understand the pressure can be immense; both publishers and readers alike desiring the next book to be better than the last.  Expectations for authors these days are high, but like any other business, push yourself too high and you could get burnt out.  You don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity; readers are prepared to buy and recommend particular authors if their work is highly regarded.  Producing two books a year is doable, but it also depends upon the author’s genre and the amount of research required.  Author Jody Hedlund has some good ideas on what you could be writing between novels.

In an interview with Writers’ Digest some years ago, author James Patterson explained how he manages to produce so many books.  His explanation was simple: when one book is finished, write another book!  This seems to be the usual catch-cry whenever you read books regarding the craft of writing; as soon as you finish one, begin work on another.   You can’t always wait for the muse to make its appearance; there are times when you have to force it to show up.  By continuing to write between books, you are not only producing more work, but also improving your skills as a writer.

If, like me, you are an unpublished author, we have an advantage – we don’t have deadlines to meet.  We don’t have the added pressure on what to write and when to write, however, we do have the same amount of time like everyone else.  It is in our own best interests on how to use that time and use it wisely.

Being a writer in today’s world seems to be separating the hobbyists from those who just have to do it.  I’ve always dreamt of being a published author, yet I know that it will forever be nothing more than a dream if I am not putting the effort in.  I trust you are doing the same.

Are you a productive writer?  Do you believe writing at least two novels a year is doable?  What are your thoughts on the expectations of authors these days?

Free image by Salvatore Vuono courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net