Wednesday, June 4, 2014

SECOND THOUGHTS ERODE MY CONFIDENCE

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group blog posting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find a list of all the other members of the group here.
 
 

After writing and self-publishing three novels in my planned Pepper Bibeau mystery series, I allowed “second thoughts” to erode my confidence in writing a fourth. My marketing for the third novel never really got off the ground. I lost faith in my writing, in the worth of the stories, and in myself as a writer. It was easier to promote authors more imaginative than me and novels containing more important characters than mine. 

A lot of soul-searching followed the publication of my third novel. 

* Why had I chosen to set my stories in the near past (beginning with the late 60s and early 70s) after reading that such novels didn’t sell? Maybe it would be better to write stories occurring in the present. 

* Why was my protagonist a female with a backstory of service as a nurse in the Vietnam War? I had never been in the military, and current bestselling novels focused on action in Afghanistan or other parts of the Middle East. 

* Why did I think the life of an insurance investigator would play well in the Mystery genre? Such a career could never carry a series. 

Once I formed concrete questions to get a handle on my concerns, I considered answers to possible solutions. In November 2013, I used NaNoWriMo to test the theory of boosting my confidence by setting stories in present time. I wrote 50K words of a novel set in 2012. My main character’s backstory and career differed from my original protagonist. The surge of excitement I felt while writing the story compared to eating a new flavor of ice cream or wearing a new red silk dress. The macadamia nut chocolate swirl ice cream delighted my taste buds. The color and feel of the new dress affected most of my other senses. 

What the ice cream and dress didn’t do, and what the new protagonist didn’t do, was to satisfy my core wants and needs. My first love is vanilla ice cream: French vanilla, Country vanilla, Simply vanilla. Ready-to-wear clothes in tranquil colors suit me best. I relish the research required in developing a character whose story spans the years missed while I was “too busy living.” 

This insight resolved my concerns about why to write something “they” say won’t sell. 

For me, appreciation of a good mystery set in a familiar location generates motivation. My goal is to write mysteries that evolve in personally meaningful settings, for the enjoyment and entertainment of readers with similar interests. Book Four is now underway and I am more eager than ever to write the next Pepper Bibeau mystery.
 
 

12 comments:

  1. I don't know if I'll be any help with this one. I think it's important to write what you love, no matter the market for that type of book. But, I also like trying to writer other types It helps improve my writing. And, I might discover I like writing that stuff, too. Go with you guy.

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  2. I don't know if I'll be any help with this one. I think it's important to write what you love, no matter the market for that type of book. But, I also like trying to writer other types It helps improve my writing. And, I might discover I like writing that stuff, too. Go with you guy.

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  3. You're right. An author doesn't have to write about what they know, but they should write about what interests them. Mystery is my genre but there are so many ways to go with any genre now.

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  4. Gail,
    Your protagonist and time frame sound great for a mystery series. I think people would like to read about that time period. Nanowrimo is a fun way to jumpstart a project, but it is like taking a fast paced adventure vacation from your usual writing routine - exciting but unsustainable over time. I am a fan of vanilla ice cream and comfy clothes too.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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  5. Write about what interests you, not what sells. Your heart won't be in it otherwise. Besides, what you're writing will find a niche and might even become the 'in' thing. You just don't know.

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  6. I never go by what sells; if I do I'd probably never write anything. I write what I love. and it sounds like you do, too.

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  7. Thanks for the supporting comments, Elizabeth, Alex, and Melanie. I am learning, slowly, not to take to heart critiques that don't advance my goals.

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  8. Yep, sometimes it does take some exploring and deliberate thought behind the whys. So glad to hear you got your enthusiasm back.

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  9. Gail, I agree with your other commentators - write what you love. Your characters and setting piqued my interest precisely because it’s not what ‘sells’ or what’s already out there and they sounded… interesting.

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  10. Changing things up is good and healthy, but I'm glad it helped you focus on writing what you do enjoy. It sounds like you have something unique to offer - who are these mysterious powers that be that decide what elements should go in a book? You have to write what's true to you. Good to hear you're inspired again!

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  11. Thanks for the encouraging words Lynda, HJ, and Nick. Receiving support for my outlook means I'm moving in the right direction.

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  12. Hi Gail - I admire you writing in the first place .. but working out what is right for the story must be quite difficult .. as Nick says you seem to be on the right track .. and writing what you know makes sense .. also having that extra passion is the icing on the top .. Good Luck -cheers Hilary

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