Ronin. Writer. Iconoclast.
A self-taught samurai without a master, Miyamoto created his own fighting technique, holding a katana in one hand and a short-sword in the other. The other samurai thought he was a rube. He’s now considered one of the greatest samurai of all time. What made him so was his willingness to blaze his own path.
I’m no ronin. And I’m only bringing this up because it’s day 2 of that writing class, and my challenge is to write about a time I took a different path. My own personal assignment is to do it in a way that doesn’t make me sound like an arrogant, self-regarding jerk.
But I have been coloring outside the lines when it comes to my writing. I wanted for so long to be part of the genre-fiction crowd. And in many ways I am. But I enjoy twisting my fiction. For example, when one of my amateur detectives got knocked out, I followed the KO with three blank pages to represent that unconscious space. The Doyle Witch In-betweens could be easily classified as “experimental” fiction, with romance novels woven between chapters of magical doings in the “writer’s” life. I usually keep my more experimental stuff short, and frequently just give it away to my newsletter subscribers. (Have you subscribed? If not, click HERE). And I’ve done this because it’s experimental. I guess I’ve kind of copped out.
But I’m now working on a larger project I *think* might be literary fiction. I say “think” because I don’t really consider myself literary. There’s a lot of snobbery and reverse snobbery between the genre fiction and literary fiction worlds. But I’m not sure how else to describe the piece.
It’s ostensibly a book on reading Tarot “by” Hyperion Night from my Tea and Tarot series. And it can be read that way, as straight-up Tarot reading how-to. But each chapter is a piece of flash fiction in and of itself. And there’s a murder mystery woven through the margins. Well, through the end notes to each chapter. Saying it’s woven through the margins just sounds more… literary.
For a long time I struggled with my urge to be more innovative with my writing vs. the belief I needed to play by the rules to hit the USA Today bestseller list**. But recently, I realized I value my creative freedom more. I love genre fiction and am going to keep on writing my cozy and witch mysteries. But I’m going to stop trying to play by the rules and fit inside the boxes. I'm just going to keep trying to be a better writer.
Also, letting other people define your success seems like a loser's game. I'd rather define success based on things I can control, like the quality of my writing and seeing incremental improvement day by day by day.
Where have you chosen a different path?
Was it worth it?
**To be totally clear, I would LOVE to be on the USA Today bestseller list! It's just not my guiding star anymore. ;-)