Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Be Authentic

My brain pretty much runs non-stop making up stuff. Not stuff I say out loud to anyone, because people who do that tend to get a reputation as pathological liars, but stuff I think may at some point find a permanent home on the pages of a book.

There are no limits. Anything can spark my interest and get me excited. Make me want to write.

That's a good feeling to have. One of the best, really.

When I first started writing professionally, I applied this same limitless mind-wandering story-conjuring to my work. If it excited me, it was getting written. I'd decide what genre it was later. Didn't matter if I had an audience base for it or not. I jumped around from thrillers to children's lit without giving it a second thought.

Then, I got more serious. Got smarter. Got down to business.

For two years now, my main focus has been on writing contemporary romance. And it's been fairly easy considering I've been in love with love ever since I was old enough to appreciate my parents' real life love story. So, a long time.

But trying to balance the story I want to tell with the story I think will be best received or help me stand out in a market flooded with heavily themed stories running on repeat, isn't always easy. Sometimes, it's even detrimental.

Because jumping on the bandwagon isn't my style. Because I know that writing a trope I find slightly skeevey (Step-brother romance anyone? It's cool if that's what floats your boat, but it's not for me.) or trying to step into a world I know nothing about and have no desire to a be a part of mentally or otherwise (MC stories and heroes are out - I think MC and bikers, I picture my stepdad on his Honda and wearing his club vest complete with patches he has attached with Velcro stickers. There's no coming back to sexy from that.) just isn't for me. Even when I wish that it was.

So, I find myself racking my brain. In the shower. In the car. At the grocery store. Wherever. How can I improve? How can I deliver on what the market calls for? What the readers want?

And the ideas come. They always come. That's not the problem. I think some of those ideas are even quite good, but for the last few months, while I've been caught up in the funnel of need and want, I've never been able to write more than a few hundred - maybe a thousand - words at a time. And the worst part of all, it felt like work. Unsatisfying work.

Then, this last week, it was like something jolted me out of my daze. And I realized how detached I've become from my writing. How everything has been coming solely from my head. Not my heart. Writing, good writing, has to come from both. It has to be authentic. To the writer. To me.

So I'm writing something new. Something that has no solid footing in the market. Something that may never find a huge audience or catapult me into best seller status.

Something I like. Something I connect with. Something that excites me and makes me want to write as soon as I get up in the morning. Something that will be better than anything I could ever possibly write when writing solely with my head.

Something I can be proud of. Because it's authentic. Because it's honest (maybe a little too honest). And the truth is, that matters more to me than anything else.

Writing for me has long moved past being a hobby or something I do to ease my stress and de-tangle my own thoughts. It's become my career. My work. My livelihood. My dream. And I'm grateful every day for that. But I can't let those new aspects of my writing kill the source of where it comes from. 

So, these last few months have been a wake up call. To not detach. To not let my head take over. 
Because we all know ~ the real magic always comes from the heart.

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