Friday, July 31, 2009

Going With The Flow

My career path sort of shifted recently. Not in a bad way, but one day I looked up and I was on a completely different road. The destination is similar but none of the landmarks ring a bell. I didn't have much control over the event itself, but I'm rolling with it and waiting to see how it plays out. The universe is unfolding as it should and all that.

It's sort of weird to mentally target a particular genre for so long, then find yourself smack in a different one. You have to change how you think about everything. Less focus on this area, more focus on this. Maybe consider rebranding yourself. (Not that anyone really knows or cares about my brand at the moment.) But at this point, I'm willing to be whatever someone wants me to be. And the switch was actually made because someone said I fit in better someplace else. To hear I fit in anywhere is great. I've always sort of considered myself to be on the fringe of any genre or line I targeted.

So now my priorities have shifted. I stopped working on my current project because I want to see how this all pans out. The story can take a sharp turn in either direction at this point, so I'd rather just wait than write it and have to change things. In the meantime, I'm working on some older stuff with a different destination. Stuff that got shot down a while back but could be viable with a little dusting off.

At least that's what I thought. Going back and reading it, I'm not so sure. This isn't housecleaning, this is a major renovation. Characterization amped up, motivations reworked, sexual tension cranked, predictible plot line scattered. I realized that I edited out the quirky stuff that makes my books 'mine' so I've got to add it all back. When I get done, this thing will be 20k words and an entire world away from where it started. At this point, I'm wondering whether its easier to write a new book than to gut one you've already done.

That's where I am. What about you all? Ever had your path change (by your doing or someone else's) and have to rethink everything you're used to doing? How'd that turn out for you in the end? Ever get started on a project and find you're way over your head?



Playground Monitor said...

Does parenthood count? It's never what you think. That sweet, sleeping baby wakes up with poop from neck to knees, screaming at a decibel level declared to cause pernament hearing loss. And then they grow up and become teenagers. LOL!

I think some sense of detour through life is to be expected. Some just detour more than others. Good luck with the new direction on the books. I have faith in you.

Heidi said...

Hi Smarty Pants

Your post has really struck a chord with me for a number of reasons.

When I wrote my first ms (or rather, when I finished my first ms, cos I had started quite a few others) it was aimed squarely at Silhouette Special Edition. I got a request for the full on the basis of my query, and got a form rejection. So I had no way of knowing that it was TOTALLY WRONG FOR THE LINE!! I just thought it hadn't been good enough (and actually it wasn't very good either but that's beside the point). So I started working on my next ms, aimed again at SSE.

Then I got my lucky break, cos I entered it into the RNA's New Writer's Scheme and the reader loved it but immediately told me that M&B had a new line that had just started which my voice, story, etc was much better suited to and offered to send the ms to the managing editor. And that's how I got published. I shudder to think how much longer it would have taken, because I would have carried right on aiming my mss at SSE and getting nowhere.

The thing is, where you target your ms does have a bearing on what you write, and it's a real trick to find the place not only where your voice fits but also where the stories you want to write fit too. You have to trust your own gut instincts. If someone told you you fit somewhere you didn't expect, it might be a complete revelation to you (as mine was), but be sure you agree with them.

I've also been in the position of trying to resurrect stuff I'd previously discarded. In my case it was because I was being a bit lazy and thought it would be less of a struggle. Boy was I wrong. Personally I think it's a lot harder to re-edit an old story than to write a new one. I found it really sapped my creativity to have to go over old ground. And once I got into the position of reinstating stuff I'd previously cut out I began to loose focus on what worked and what didn't (and pretty soon I had this desperate urge to murder my hero and heroine!!). That was my experience, yours may be totally different...

Anyway, the very best of luck with your quest.

Problem Child said...

Yes, the Universe Is Unfolding As It Should. Remember that.

Sometimes it's easier to just start over with something new and different rather than trying to rework something else (I have a blog post coming up about this very thing.) Are you excited about the possibilities of what this book could turn into if you do major renovations? That's a clue it's worth doing. If you're trying to pound a square peg into a round hole one way or the other, by dog, then madness lies ahead.

Just MHO.

Angel said...

We have plenty of people on the Playground that can tell you about the experience of gutting a book and reworking it. Personally, I think your first book was great, and would be even better with all the quirky bits added in, but you are the one who has to do the work. And revisions aren't your favorite, I know.

I feel like I'm just now finding a place to focus. May be the wrong place, but I've been encouraged in that direction, so I'm going to stick with it. Funny thing is, I'm focusing on a line that my first MS was targeted towards. 5 MSs later, I've wondered all over the genre and am wondering if I should have stuck with my gut instincts in the first place. I guess there is only 1 way to find out.

Thanks for the story, Hiedi!


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Boy did I end up somewhere I didn't expect. I loved Presents, but they weren't where I thought I'd be. I obviously fit here, but now I've had to delete all special forces and explosions from my repertoire. :) (Okay, most of them. I sneak them in when I can. Book 2, ahem.)

And yeah, when I sit down now to start a book, I am very firmly thinking about how to provide the Presents promise. Rethinking your path isn't a bad thing. :)

Kathy said...

You'll be fine, SP. Don't think of it as raping your book, but enhancing. :)

Book number one anyone? That's a place I don't want to go again. ;)

Christine said...

I am still farming the first book for research. It was requested but thankfully rejected. The bizarre thing is I got a real letter, not a form letter. And I can't find it anywhere -- don't know what happened to it. I'd love to read it again and look up the editor who sent it to me to thank him for his kind and encouraging words.

My CPs in Fairfax suggested I target Blaze--before that I wanted to target Desires. But I am very spicy -- can't seem to write a book without the real mccoy in it.

I know you'll find a way to get the job done.