This entire day feels like something is trying to break through. When I took the dogs out before dawn, the wind was blowing so loudly it sounded like we were at sea. Leaves and branches are whipping around the yard in a forced dervish dance. Our trash can–and all the neighbours’–is blown sideways and down.
It’s the kind of day that seems as though it should be frigid, but it’s actually quite hot. That adds to the feeling of a break along the seams, like the world is fevered and trying to shake whatever ails it.
I can’t get much work done; the outside is both captivating and slightly frightening. Which, I suppose when I get right down to it, is the same way I’m feeling about my current writing. Having read these wonderful books of late, my faith in what I’m trying to do as a writer is restored. I’ve bounced around from idea to idea in quest for the most commercial and most easily finished idea. In doing that I’ve abandoned the books that felt closest to me. Especially my pride and joy, my book about Sarah.
Here’s the thing; I had a story that I wanted to read but didn’t seem to have been written yet, so I started to write it. I wanted to write a sort of coming-of-age story (I hate using the world Bildungsroman outside of a literature class…) that dealt with a woman battling for her place in the worlds of science and medicine and religion. But I under no circumstances wanted to to be any type of religious book. I’ve spent years researching the story, and drafts of it litter notebooks and hard drives and stacks of 3×5 cards tucked in various nooks and crannies around my house.
Then I went to Sherlock’s Books one Saturday afternoon to check it out. There just happened to be a book signing there; purely by coincidence, it was featuring an author I had met previously at a writers’ workshop. He writes in the Inspirational/Faith Fiction space and we were discussing that. I happened to mention that my book featured an Amish character. Because it does…my character starts out as Amish.
I had no idea that Amish girls were the Christian version of Vampires and had basically their own section in every Christian bookstore in the world. But I was so discouraged that my idea was not only not new but actually very tired. So I stopped writing. I couldn’t do it anymore. Because I didn’t want people to think I was joining some bandwagon–even though I had no idea such a bandwagon even existed until many years AFTER I started my own book. I think a lot of my antipathy for Faith Fiction stems from that, from the fact that I abandoned a world I was so attached to because FF had already beat it to death.
But then over the weekend something struck me. I’ve been reading Fantasy Authors like crazy lately. I’ve read a lot of okay stuff, a couple awful things and, lucky for me, some of the most wonderful books I’ve read in any genre, any space. All of the books have things in common with other Fantasy stories. But the best ones went ahead and made their own story. Patrick Rothfuss wasn’t deterred by having a dragon in his book. He just made his own dragon. George R.R. Martin didn’t care one bit that other authors had knights errant, dragons, pirates and the like. He just went ahead and told his story.
I think more and more that I am going to do just that. I’m going to quit worrying about “will a publisher buy this”. I’m especially going to quit worrying about people thinking I’ve ripped off Beverly Lewis. Instead, I’m going to write the book I’ve always wanted to write. I feel free, and a bit wild like the wind.