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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Ruth J. Hartman

Don’t Be Afraid to Change

When I started out in my fledgling writing career, I’d made up my mind that I would write children’s books. I had so many ideas. I had a list of character names neatly printed on index cards. I studied children’s books already written. I talked to my young dental patients about what they liked to read. Then I was accepted into, and completed, a course on Writing for Children and Teenagers from the Institute of Children’s Literature. I wrote stories and submitted. Then I’d wait, and wait some more. Most of the publishers failed to even respond. The few I did hear from were all in the negative. I’ll admit, I was dejected. Maybe I had no talent for writing after all. Maybe I’d deluded myself.

But one of the publishers I’d sent a young adult story to offered something different. My story centered on a high school girl with OCD. They rejected it, but said they would be interested in my personal story with the disorder. At first, I discounted the idea. Me? Write down the horrible stuff I’d gone through, and tell the world about it? It took a little while for me to warm up to the idea. Although I have to admit, writing my memoir never got easier. But I wrote down, in detail, my painful memories of my past experiences, and sent it off to the publisher.

They accepted! That’s how My Life in Mental Chains came to be. But after the excitement of being published, a book signing, and comments from family and friends, I still wondered if I could really write. Sure, people told me I’d written in a descriptive, easy-to-read style, but that was my own personal history. Non-fiction. Would fiction from my imagination come across as well?

I gave it a try. Sticking to write what you know, I delved into a story about a dental hygienist. As my story evolved, the heroine met and fell in love with one of her patients. I now had a romance on my hands. You need to understand, that was never my intent. When I started writing, I never planned on writing romances.

But here we are. I now have one published, and two more due out the beginning of 2011. And now I can’t imagine writing anything besides romance. I still have one special children’s story stuck in my head, which just may surprise me one of these days and beg for a submission to a publisher. But writing romance, for me, just clicks. Who knew? So don’t be afraid, or even surprised if your writing career ends up miles away from where you headed. That’s okay! Enjoy the ride.


Sherry Gloag said...

You've got to admit, writing about a dental hygenist is not everyone's first thought for a heroine's occupation.
Guess you nailed it. Well done.

susan said...

You had to do quite well to make a hit with a book about a disorder. I am proud of you and wished I had read the book. susan L.