As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent the weekend re-vamping my blog and website. I really felt like my blog in particular was a generic, cookie-cutter product that didn't showcase any of who I want to be as a writer. Then, I got to thinking about it and realized that when I started my blog a little over a year ago, I had no idea who I was.
I wrote my first book in a flurry of keystrokes, cranking out a product that fit a preconceived notion of what I thought readers(and agents)wanted. It was soft, fluffy, and a bit non-committal. In essence, the book was a big fat bowl of vanilla ice cream. I took a break, queried, took my hits and started back up, this time working on a sequel. I relaxed a little, let my personality come though a bit more, and the end result was--well--more like pralines and cream. A step up from vanilla, but not by much.
The rejections rolled in, one after the other. My request rate, a little worse than ten percent. "Your writing shows promise, but it's not quite there," became the standard response to submissions. I took another break. A little longer this time. I networked, I blogged, I critiqued. And I made some friends in the writing world. But it wasn't until a rainy Saturday morning last May that I finally realized why my writing wasn't quite there.
A single sentence popped into my head. A voice in, of all things, first person. Um, I don't write first person! I don't like it! But the voice would not be silenced and an idea bloomed in my mind bright and urgent. I sat down at my laptop and in one weekend wrote the first 10,000 words. The story was dark, my heroine, bold, brash and unapologetic. Her steel-toed boots and samurai sword were a far cry from my previous characters. The tone of the novel, decidedly darker. I wrote the book in just under three months and couldn't have been happier with the end-product. My voice had finally shown through. The story had taken on a life of its own, no longer fitting the mold of what I thought readers and agents wanted. This book was one-hundred million percent ME. This book was a big 'ole bowl of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey. And you know what? This book has had a much better reception. I can't believe how blessed I've been during this long query process.
One of my friends asked me the other day about my first book, now shelved and resting, maybe indefinitely. "You could always revise it," she said. "Do you think you will?" I thought about it, rolled the possibility in my mind and said, "I've been thinking about that, and I've decided that book just isn't what I want to be known for. It's not the kind of writer I want to be. I like the dark stuff, I like hard, angsty characters." And I know--KNOW--this dark stuff won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it's mine. And if I like it, there's other readers and agents out there that will like it too. I didn't try to please anyone but myself, and by doing that, I became the writer I knew I could be.
So when someone asks, "What do you write?" I'll no longer waffle on the answer, trying to decide what they want to hear. I'll answer, "I write dark urban fantasy. And I like it."