This wasn't what I was going to blog about today, but yesterday Smarty Pants sent me an email:
Kim - could you post on your blog tomorrow that I'm debuting on the Desire Author blog tomorrow on eHarlequin? Here's the link.
It's not an uncommon request on the Playground. I'm sure you've seen these little announcements at the bottom of everyone's posts as we make our way around the internet (spreading joy and happiness!). But it made me think (and since I'm deep in revisionland, thinking is an oddity): we've come a long way in five years.
When we started the blog, I was targeting Desire and Andrea was writing single title paranormals. Now she's writing for Desire and I'm writing for Presents. Kira was targeting Blaze by then, but she had at least one IM under the bed. None of us are exactly where we thought we'd be when we started writing.
It just goes to show that some of the most common writing advice isn't always golden. "Write what you love to read" should be "Submit to the line that you think best fits your voice and your story." It makes sense -- after all, voice makes the story, and if your story is a sweeping historical, that sassy, modern voice isn't going to cut it. But sometimes, you may not know exactly where your voice fits. Your voice may not sound like what you think it sounds like.
I think a lot of aspiring authors think "I love X kinds of books, therefore I must have an X kind of voice." That's not true. I love big fat historicals, but I couldn't write one to save my life. It would be a tragedy of epic fail proportions. Your voice is how you write, not what you write.
So how do you know if you're trying to write the wrong kind of book for your voice. If you're lucky, an editor will tell you. If an editor tells you, "I think you might be better off submitting to X," believe them.
If you don't have an editor handy, I'd ask a friend. Preferably a friend who reads a wide variety of romance novels from different subgenres and lines. Give her some sample pages and ask her what kind of book it sounds like.
And read widely yourself. We all tend to narrow our focus and read heavily in the lines/subgenres we want to target, but reading widely might help you see that your book is wrong for your voice. Erotic romance sizzles and pulses with energy. Long. languid sentences and flowing exposition won't fly. Romantic suspense needs to feel heavier and tense with spurts of energy to match the plot points. Lightwieght, carefree prose need not apply. Try to be honest with yourself: is your voice really right for that kind of book?
It may be a hard task. Deciding that you don't have the voice to write for the line you love can be difficult and lead to depression. But if you stay open to the possibilities and learn to respect this unique part of your writing, you may find yourself a happy home in the last place you expected.
P.S. Yep, Instigator is spreading joy and happiness this morning too on the eharlequin Blaze Celebration. Come learn what she thinks makes Blaze so special.