As a writer we face many cross-road in out career (well, as a human we face many cross-roads), but for today's blog I wanted to write about a recent cross-road (writer-wise) that I've had to face and what I decided to do about it (and yes, it does involve the horses).
I started writing as a kid. I knew from the time I was about nine-years-old that I wanted to be a writer. The dream stuck and I wrote my first full length manuscript when I was in my early twenties. That book didn't sell, and neither did the next several. Looking back I realize now that I was writing to try and sell what was out there selling (big thrillers). It took me some time to realize that I wasn't able to compete with John Grisham. Fast forward twelve years later and I finally did sell my first series through a literary agent. It was the Wine Lover's Mystery series, which I have just turned in book 6 (A Toast to Murder)--the final installment in the series. After selling the wine lover's, I really wanted to write a mystery series involving horses and that's where the horse lover's mysteries came in. Horses are something I know better than wines, and I am far more passionate about the horses than wine. However, I loved writing both series and was sad when the horse mysteries were cancelled after the third book.
In between contracts I wrote a women's fiction piece that is out on submission now, and another mystery proposal for a new series. I get really nervous being out of contract usually, and this last time was no different. I tend to scramble and come up with a ton of new ideas sending them off to my agent for her opinion. Then, I took a step back and I asked myself this question, "What do I wnat to write?" Not, "What is selling right now and how can I write what is selling, and therefore sell more books?" That question sort of takes the fun out of it, doesn't it? Now, I knew that asking myself what I wanted to write might not mean that it would sell. But guess what, the other question gives the same answer as "It might not sell." Knowing that and understanding that writing/publishing books is sort of like playing the lottery, I changed my focus/attitude and decided that I wanted to go back to writing something that involved horses. This scared me a bit because of the cancellation of the horse mysteries. I realize that writing what I want to write could be a "longshot."
However, I took my questioning a step further and asked myself, "Who do you want to be as a writer?" Who I want to be as a writer or what I want to be known as writer-wise is the writer who writes horse-related fiction. Just like Grisham writes legal thrillers, I want to write horses. For me, that doesn't always mean that a horse(s) take center stage, but it does mean that in some way they make an appearance. Like in the women's fiction I finished last year titled "Happy Hour," one of the women (Jamie) has lost her husband. Her daughter Maddie is nine-years old. Jamie is having financial problems but Maddie has finally found a connection and something she loves, which happens to be horses. Jamie struggles to pay for riding lessons for Maddie. Eventually Jamie starts taking lessons herself in trade for volunteering on Saturdays at the ranch for handicaped riders. She finds herself healing from the death of her husband through the handicapped children she works with and the horses that work with the kids as well. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Maddie's and Jamie's riding instructor is a hot cowboy type (had to throw that in). So, you see where I'm going? Horses will somehow play a part in what I write in some way.
Asking myself the tough questions, also guided me into writing a Young Adult piece that because I am superstitious and because there is some interest in, I am keeping mum about (I think it's a writer thing). I can tell you that the horses in this book make more than just cameos. They are characters.
Being clear now on who I want to be as a writer and what I want to write has given me some breathing room. I may not sell, another book, but I am happy I feel as if I've found my niche. Writing isn't about selling, although it is great to have your book on the shelves and know people are reading it. Writing is about growth as a human being and writer. I think writing allows us to discover who we are and who we want to be. It enables us to look at human nature and for those of us at Equestrian Ink, horse nature as well. And, I think we can all agree that horses have a lot to teach us.
If you write (for fun or for a career): What are you writing? What do you want to write? Is there a niche that you want to tackle, but are possibly afraid to do so? Why do you write and what do you get out of it?
I'd love to read writers/riders responses.