Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Finding My Voice

Welcome to Wednesday on Prairie Chicks Write Romance. Wednesdays are my day to give you a glimpse into my writing life. I am, as of yet, an unpublished romance author with big dreams. I have completed the first draft of a novel and now I am in the process of learning how to edit it. I am a newbie to this writing for real business and all to often a newbie without a clue. Thank goodness for the Internet and the words of wisdom, knowledge and encouragement writers generously leave floating around in cyberspace.

I am also a wife, mother, avid reader and some other things to boring to mention. I am fortunate to belong to a great book club which gives me the opportunity to read a variety of books. A good thing because left to my own devices it would be all romance all the time. Variety is a good thing.

Writing is my passion. Passions involve hard work and committment. Sometimes bad habits form in defence against failure. In that vein, I seem to have perfected the art of stalling. One of my favorite stall tactics involves sitting down to read instead of sitting down to write. I've always been tempted by a good romance. So easy to lose yourself in someone else's story and neglect your own. Then there are the days I do "research". I can spend hours wandering about the web. Very entertaining but not very productive.

I also have a tendency to compare what I'm writing to what I'm reading. Never a good idea. Especially if the author is Tara Janzen, Suzanne Brockmann or twenty others I could name. So I've decided to not read romance for the next couple of months. Drastic, I know. I'm still going to be reading, just not romance. I am going to give the voice inside of me a chance to unfurl without unfair comparisons.

How about you? What do you read when you're immersed in a project. Do you worry about your voice. Do you worry about someone else's voice stepping over your's?


Janet said...

So very true, Karen. I, too, find that other voices creep into my writing. When I was working on my first edit of my medieval romance, I was reading Linda Howard (love Linda Howard). Let's just say, it didn't mesh. So, I learned that all romance has to be read between projects or when I'm not writing.

So, I read mystery, literature, or memoir. And hopefully, my voice will emerge and one day I'll be able to read my favorite genre at the same time as writing it. Great post, great questions!(And from what I've read - you have a great voice)

Janet A said...

Your thoughts about passions involving commitment and hard work are really resonating with me right now. Though I am not a writer like you, I AM a master procrastinator when it comes to learning more about my passion... painting. Oh how easy to sit down with a good book instead.

As for the rest of your first blog post... way to go sis. You make a girl proud.

Karen said...

Thank you, Janet, for the kind words. I'm glad I'm not the only one with these issues. I think you are right. At this point any reading of the romance variety will be done in the off season. Like you mentioned, there are other things to read. Linda Howard, yikes, I wouldn't want to compare myself with her either! She's great. I also need to concentrate on education and I need to do some reading to further my knowledge of the craft and the industry.

Hey, sis. Maybe procrastination is genetic. Although to be fair you do have a lot on your plate right now. Just never forget what a fabulous artist you are.

Anita Mae Draper said...

One of the first things I learned from my author friends on eharlequin was not to read the line your writing.

So, Karen, you might be a newbie, but you're going about it the right way. The reason, of course, is just like you and Janet can subconsciously inject someone else's 'voice' into your writing.

I read/write contemporary, historical and inspy, so I have lots of room to switch things around.

I'm not crazy about chicklit or womens fiction but I have been known to read it.

In fact, I guess I'll read anything. 8-)

Suse said...

Congratulations on your first post, Karen. You've voiced some fears and concerns I think a lot of writers go through. I don't usually read more than one author in a row of any type of book, so I hope I'm not encroaching on any other writer's voice. In fact, I rarely get to read a novel these days, so I guess when I write, I'm just writing the voice I hear in my head.

It is also true for me that I can while away the hours doing "research" or just catching up on emails. Someday soon, I hope to manage my time better. I know that when I do sit down to write, then I will write, so I just have to make that conscious decision. I think I might also have to go back to using a timer. I used to put the timer on for 15 minutes and play solitaire. When the timer went, I had to stop playing and begin writing. Hmm, maybe I should buy myself a nice timer to put on my desk instead of the one I use in the kitchen. Okay, maybe I'll do some shopping on the way home from work, and THEN I'll write. Yeah, that's it.

Karen said...

I won't go so far as to say I'd read anything but pretty darn close. The lovely thing about book clubs is the opportunity to read books you wouldn't have picked for yourself. Not reading in the line your working on and not reading more than one author in a row are both good ideas. I've never thought of using a timer but the idea has potential.

I have designated tomorrow a writing day so I'm sure I'll come up with some excuse or another not to plant my butt in my chair and type but I'm determined to ignore them and write away.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karen,
I agree with what everyone has said about the dangers of reading your favorite romance novels while trying to write your own. When I'm deeply in the throes of writing, I try to stick to research material, perhaps for the novel I'm working on, or maybe the next one. At the moment I'm reading "Behind the Glory", the story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. I'm kind of a World War II nut.

Karen, whatever you do, don't compare yourself to another writer. If you want to compare something, how about comparing your first draft to your second (or fifth)? You'll be amazed by how far you've come. As tough as revising is, that's when the magic happens!

Jana Richards

Cara said...

Karen, I really enjoyed reading your blog posting. I think it takes a great deal of courage to trust your voice and share it with the world (or cyberspace anyway). I do a lot of writing in my paid work, and I am hoping to make time and space to write with my own personal voice. So thank you for the inspiration!

And after reading all the posts of the Prairie Chicks, I'm thinking about reading some romance novels!

Karen said...

Thanks, Jana.I really like your idea of looking at things from a different angle. Instead of comparing myself to others I will compare myself to, well ... myself (sorry its late). Its a much kinder and more positive approach and I'm going to start employing it.

Cara, I know time is tight and committments abound but you would make such a great writer that I hope you manage to carve out some space and time and go for it.

Thanks everyone for a great Wednesday.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Karen, I'm glad you mentioned procrastinating in your post. I'm like you - I can find so many things to do instead of revising my ms which is what I'm supposed to be doing these days. I actually took Dec off writing to spend with the family while I have the luxury of being able to do it. I kept saying I'd get back in Jan. Well, here it is the 7th of Jan and I still haven't got back to it.

I liked your post. After I first commented, I had to head into the city and I just got back but your words stayed with me.

Good job.

mcd - nichol said...

grief - i so fall into the same pits ... i've got a million pages outlined, you think i'd sit down and write ? nope ! i clean and THINK about my stories, i type on my laptop, which is all but an extra appendage, i draw, or read but actually write ...
i also understand the part about laying off a genre while you're writting - now i KNOW there is nothing new under the sun but i'm always SOOOOO disappointed when i read a book and the author has something similar in their story. i worry someone will think i took the idea from them so i try to cover myself by not reading so i can say 'sorry, never read that' or 'didn't read that until after i'd written my story - neat coincidence'.