An Illuminating Discovery

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I had a light-bulb moment last week about why I’m struggling so much as a writer. It happened while I was reading The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft. I got sucked into this story from the very first page and could not put this book down. It was a well-told mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. When I finished the book, I’d had an epiphany.

I’ve been focusing all of my writing energy on the wrong genre.

FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS!

For at least six years, the stories that I’ve been working on have ranged from romantic women’s fiction to straight up romance. I’ve been reading romance novels for decades, so it seemed like the route to go with my writing. I know what’s expected from the genre as far as reader expectation and basic romance story structure.  An even bigger incentive to write romance is the fact that it’s the best selling genre out there, and, as much as I hate to admit it, the sole reason driving my decision to write romance.

A couple of weeks ago, I set my current work in progress aside because I was getting nowhere. Instead, I started working on a short romance story with the intention of submitting it to Woman’s World Magazine, one of the few magazines (or quite possibly the only one) that still publishes short romance. I’ve submitted short stories to them in the past and received rejections for each one, but I’m determined to sell them a story. I plotted out an idea that I’d been toying with and then sat down to write. After about three paragraphs the story stalled out, so I closed my computer. I went back to it a couple more times, but couldn’t make any headway and finally decided to go read a book instead.

It’d been a long time since I’d read any mysteries, a genre I’ve always loved but pushed aside in order to focus on romance and women’s fiction. That Kathryn Croft book made me realize how much I miss reading (and writing) mystery and reminded me that many moons ago I fancied myself a mystery writer.

When I went back to work on that short romance, I knew I wouldn’t be finishing that story. My heart just wasn’t in it. I’ve thought long and hard about the romance/romantic women’s fiction novel that I’ve been working on for the last number of years. The story is nowhere near complete and it will never be completed. I’d flip flopped between making it a romance novel to women’s fiction with a little bit of romance and then back to full-on romance, letting what I thought might appeal to agents/publishers guide my decisions. The concept and story line have changed so many times that at this point I have no clue what my original story idea was when I started. 

The end goal of getting published has been the driving factor in what I write and so far I’ve yet to get published, or finish anything substantial for that matter.

It’s time I go in another direction entirely and take the idea of getting published out of the equation with respect to writing a novel. When I gave up on the short romance story, I opened up the file of an outlined mystery novel that I’d abandoned long ago and made the decision to work on this story.

My goal for as long as I can remember is to write a novel, but I’ve been consumed by what I think the publishing world wants and that has stymied my progress.  What’s important is that I reach my goal and write that book, not for an agent, not for a publisher, but for me and no one else–whether it gets published or not. 


3 thoughts on “An Illuminating Discovery

  1. You’ve hit on something really important here. Writing for the sake of selling can work, but I think it takes a really particular type of writer to pull it off. There’s NOTHING wrong with you if you’re not that type of writer!

    I recently sat in on a really incredible session on “starting over” by author Liza Palmer. In it she mentioned how passion might be enough to get us started, but it rarely sustains us. We have to follow the breadcrumbs about what piques our interest and explore the stories that captivate us.

    I’ve heard many authors and agents say the best stories are the ones we write from our hearts. It’s inspiring to read that you’re following yours! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with the idea of exploring the stories that captivate us. When it comes to writing, murder and mayhem interest me far more than love and relationships. It’s taken some time for me to figure it out, but that’s part of the writing process.

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  2. You’e on the right track, Jennifer! I write mysteries because this is the genre I’ve loved to read most since I was a kid. Writing the type of stories that I would like to read keeps me going. The editor inside me usually has the audience in mind too, (thus all the editing) so that things don’t become too muddled or slow or illogical. It’s challenging but it’s worth the effort 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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