Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chosen Paths

I think this is the day no one is scheduled to use... if I am wrong, please forgive me and post your blog, mine can sink lower on the list!

I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday whom I hadn't spoken to for over fifteen years. I heard word of her occasionally, but yesterday was the first time that we actually visited. She's a writer, too. At one time, she and I and our mutual friend had a critique group. She was writing a children's fictional book about abuse, an issue close to her heart. I was writing a children's book as well, a mystery (surprise). At one point, she said, "I wish I could write like you," which stunned me as she was by far the superior writer. Then she explained that she wished she could write for bigger markets, but I knew the truth was she just wasn't interested in creating fictional stories without a deep message.

So yesterday we caught up. During these fifteen years, we both faced a major health concern. She got her dire diagnosis when she had just gone to contract on another book, this one a compilation of child abuse survivors' stories, something different than what was available on the market. She made her deadline and is currently plotting her next project. Meanwhile, she's been very active in a non-profit organization for cancer survivors, again, one with a unique twist.

During this same fifteen years, I have sold eighteen books. Not one of them dealt with any of the issues I had experienced relating to health nor did they provide anything but entertainment to my readers. As we compared notes, she admitted feeling a twinge of envy over what I had accomplished (the sheer volume, relatively speaking, I suppose), and believe you me, as she spoke of the letters written by young women from all over the world who have found comfort and strength and peace because of her books, I felt envy, too.

In the end, I guess we are who we are. How about you? Are you doing with your books what you had hoped to do or what you desire still to do? If not, do you have any plans to shake things up?


Alice Sharpe said...

I wonder if anyone will check out the blog page? I guess we'll see....

Karen Duvall said...

Interesting blog, Alice. Hmmm...

Well, I'm writing what I want to write. But I also have another goal which could be too big for my writerly britches, but one can dream, right?

I want to write a book that transcends conventional boundaries of my genre, and that breaks rules yet gets away with it. I have an idea, but I'm not sure it's different enough to accomplish the break out status I'm talking about. Like I said, it's a dream. It's certainly nothing that will change lives or have any deep meaning for anyone, that's for sure.

Alice Sharpe said...

Karen, I have ideas for books that I am uncertain I have the skills to write. So I don't write them. Doesn't that fall under the category of fear? I keep telling myself I'll take a hiatus from writing Intrigues and get one of these a run around the block, but then another idea pops into my head or I get nervous with no contract and there you go.

Your ambition to write a break out book in your genre is interesting. You mean fantasy, right? Maybe you're getting ready to write it. Your current book took you further than you'd gone before, maybe it's the diving board into your pool of fame!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I write for entertainment. I don't have any desire to write about controversial or "hot" topics. As for our books not having deep messages, I disagree. There's a Carrie Underwood song that goes, "What you got if you ain't got love?...When you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small." People may discount romance as being fluff but we write about a subject that's universal no matter your background, gender, heritage, religion or age. That's good enough for me.

Alice Sharpe said...

I wish I'd said that! Well stated. And believe it or not, I wasn't trying to trivialize romance. Good grief, I am a romance writer! What I was trying to express was a certain regret I have that I have not used some of the very specific life happenings I've experienced in a direct way to help other people going through the same thing. Kind of like Paty's giving back blog of a day or so ago.

My friend said her grandmother had a saying that roughly translated into bury something in the yard and eventually a camel will eat the grass (and uncover it... it confused me, too) and she laughingly said she's a camel, she uncovers and I realized I am the guy with the shovel digging the hole and covering it over. It's a difference in personality traits.

Viva love! Viva romance!

Danita Cahill said...

Yes, my books have a message. I try to reach out and help people with life lessons that I've experienced and have overcome. If I ever get some published, we'll see if the stories really do help anyone who's going through divorce, having trouble coping with the death of a loved one, or experiencing deep-seated trust issues.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. :-)
Alice wrote: "What I was trying to express was a certain regret I have that I have not used some of the very specific life happenings I've experienced in a direct way to help other people going through the same thing..."

I think about that sometimes. My son is mentally handicapped and autistic, and I taught him how to read. I say to myself occasionally--you should be doing a story, or nonfiction minibook or something like that would help other parents do the same. Or help them see how well your son is doing and they can help guide their child into the same happy life. Or something on how you coped all those years you did most of the caretaking. Then I think--nooo, I want to write romantic suspense, not that. I don't want to relive all that.

So instead, I'll go online, find a site for parents of autistic children or something like that, and answer a couple questions along those lines, and I feel better.

It helps that my son (now 25) inspires people all by himself with what he does (sings at rest homes), so it takes away some of the regret or guilt. Things might change in the future, but for now, I love what I'm writing and don't feel regrets at all.
Flo Moyer

Alice Sharpe said...

Hey Flo, thanks for chiming in. You and our son both sound like amazing people. How generous of him to share his singing talent -- I bet he brings a lot of smiles to people. And since he couldn't be doing that without your tender care, you, my dear, should be able to sit back and pat yourself on your little guilt-free back and write anything you please.

I guess it does come down to personalities as I, too, have decided to leave problems behind me and pursue fiction. There's nothing in the world wrong with that. I think for me, and maybe for you too, we cope by not dwelling in the past. And like Eli said, people need entertainment as much as they need information, they need escape as much as they need realism.

Genene said...

Hey, Alice, no guilt allowed!

I didn't realize that my books reflected emotions I was working through until years after I wrote them and could look back at them from a different place in my life.

Since I've become more aware of issues and lessons in my life, I can see the messages in my books more clearly also. If that helps someone else, I'm delighted. If the book simply entertains, that in itself can be healing.

I did write most of a comedy at one of the darkest times in my life. I needed a break from "reality." I needed to laugh and focus on something joyous. I'll go back and finish that book someday. I think it's third or fourth on my list of writing projects.

The deep lessons are wonderful. However, as you and Eli both said, people need love and entertainment too. Thank goodness we can have it all with the variety of romances now being written and published!

Genene said...

P.S. to Alice ...

I had an idea for a "big book" many years ago that I didn't feel I had the skills to write. Yet I've kept gathering notes and clippings for that book, as well as growing and changing and learning myself.

Is it time for me to write that book yet? Almost! It's hovering at about the same place on my writing project list as the comedy. Figure that one out! Will I need the comic relief after writing a deeply emotional book? Or should I write the comedy first to have a "clean slate" to dig into the big book?

I think you have skills you may not give yourself credit for. But when the time is right for you, you'll write one of those "other" books!

Alice Sharpe said...

Genene, I like the idea of a writing list, ideas piled up one after the other like planes waiting to land at a crowded airport.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. And truly, I don't feel guilty.

As Popeye said, "I yam what I yam!"

Paty Jager said...

Chiming in late! I've been at my son's in Anchorage and he doesn't have internet and I didn't have a means to get anywhere that did.

I'm sitting in the airport waiting for my flight and catching up on e-mails an this blog.

I write for entertainment and hope that somewhere in the story something will be learned.Either a historical fact, an educational information or emotional.

I have a couple big projects I've been thinking about, but waiting on. Niether one have anything big to divulge but they are both stories that center around relatives and their lives.

Paty Jager said...

And I love this blog, Alice!