When I first started writing, I had some pretty high hopes of becoming the next Nora Roberts.
(Don’t look at me like that! What beginning writer didn’t want to be the next Nora?)
I read all her books voraciously. So when I finished my first own romance book, I really thought I had managed to emulate her in every way.
Then…my first chance to showcase my stuff appeared. My local library was having author Ann Kelleher come and do a writing workshop. I was a newbie writer, so I enthusiastically gobbled up all she had to say on writing and trying to get published. I’d learned so much!
On the last day, she asked for volunteers to bring in samples of their writing for a critique. I was psyched! I had not found any critique partners yet—nor had ANYONE else read my work—so I was anxious to hear what others would think.
The last day of the workshop, I brought in my first chapter grasped in my sweaty little fingers and anxiously handed it over to be read. As Ms. Kelleher read it, she smiled and nodded. (Good signs, I thought) But I also heard muffled chuckles from the other readers. (Not good signs, I thought)
So when she finished, I looked at her expectantly. She said, “It’s really good. You got the Chick-lit voice down pat.” Then she proceeded to tell me how I could make my manuscript better. Yeah, well, unfortunately, I missed half of what she said because I was too preoccupied by her chick-lit comment.
Chick-lit? I thought. (I barely knew what chick-lit even meant) My story isn’t Chick-lit. It’s a Tender Romance!
Huh. Obviously, I was not the next Nora. I went home that night with my tail tucked between my legs, devastated that I was so far off base with what I thought my writing was. But as I learned more about the craft, I realized that it was actually a good thing I had my own voice and style. In fact, I learned to embrace my humorous tone and switched my focus from trying to write like Nora to trying to write like…well, me. And when I did that, I found I enjoyed writing more. It came more naturally. I soon found some crit partners who agreed and gave me positive feedback.
I don’t write Chick-lit but it is kind of funny—no pun intended—that I’ve switched to writing Romantic Comedy instead of the romantic dramas I thought I should write. Who knew? But I’m very grateful for that accidental steering I got. It opened my eyes to a whole new sub genre of romance I might not have found on my own.
What about you? Are you writing in the genre you thought you’d be writing in?