The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston

01 December 2009

Style Hopping

I'm someone who gets bored easily. Don't get me wrong, I can lay back and enjoy a candlelit bath and a good book with the best of them, but I need action. I compose huge 'to do' lists and run around like a chicken with its head cut off, because I want the satisfaction of accomplishment. Getting in a morning jog and feeding ducks on the river before I blog and go to work, followed by cooking a great meal, watching an hour of a fav TV show then writing, is my idea of a day well spent. Even my holidays are jam-packed.

The key to a great day for me is variety. It's wonderful if I can spend ten hours writing, but if I don't get in some quality time with my husband (who I'm soppily in love with even after 20 years) and go for a walk, at least, then I feel antsy. Months and years are hurtling by at a frightening pace, but I've noticed that days brimming with variety seem to go on forever. I can slow down time this way. Time isn't measured by numbers on a clock but by experiences.

In terms of my writing, I get equally antsy. I like to try new styles, approaches and ideas. Stretching myself brings a feeling of accomplishment. I've finished two manuscripts, and I'm about 5,000 words into a third. They're each different:

Example #1: The fear he felt around his real dad was very different from the fear he felt around Jason. No telling when it would start. Sometimes, it started right at the beginning, sometimes on the drive home. This time it was after the sun set and a red moon rose into the sky.
“You have to be careful, Shawn. You remember what I said? You’re special.”

“Yeah, I remember.” He kept his voice even, playing along. If he didn’t argue, the episodes passed more quickly.

Example #2: There were three reasons I dreaded this meeting. First, despite the fact that Duane and my brother were best friends, Duane and I…"clashed" would be the polite way of putting it. I was seldom polite, so I called it "hating his guts". Second, during the disbursement of my brother’s will, I discovered that Duane was given guardianship of my five year old nephew. Uncle Ulric was contesting it--the boy was his only remaining male heir--and he would win of course, but I didn’t want to get in the middle, especially when I considered Duane and Uncle equally evil. Although, my sister could teach them both a thing or two.

Example #3: The six year old hung over the side of the boat and trailed his hand in placid water. Beneath the surface, a white form rose into the light. Dead eyes stared at the boy, and he stared back. Ralen’s throat was caked with fire. He cupped his palm to capture the yellowish water. So thirsty. He put the liquid on his tongue but it burned even worse than the air, and he spit it out again. The mouth of the corpse was open now, laughing.


The only good thing about being unpublished is that I have the freedom to indulge my desire for variety. It seems that once you're 'out there' you're branded. Your name has to mean something to readers; they want to know what to expect. All right, I'd be happy if anyone remembered my name, let alone thought of it as a brand. Still, it's easier to market yourself if you're consistent. If you must hop styles, as I do for my own sanity, what's the best way to work it into a writing career? Pseudonyms? Don't even dream about it until you're established? If you have to choose one genre/style to focus on, how do you decide? How can this headless chicken choose a niche?


  1. I'd probably choose different pseudonyms. Easy to do and then you can promote the different genres on your central website for readers who like to read different types of books.

    I chose cozy mysteries because I knew I could pretty easily write one (after reading a slew of them.)

    But there's no reason you have to stick with just one. Publishers are delighted to work with pseudonyms.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Thanks for the advice Elizabeth! Of course, I have to focus on getting something published before I branch out.

  3. I agree that it's nice to have the freedom to explore your voice! I'm in the same position.

    BTW I left an award for you on my blog.