Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Writing Evolution. By Nancy Darwin Allen

As much as things change, they also stay the same. I am working on something entirely different than anything I've written before and am enjoying the process so much, but although it's new to me, the love of the craft remains the same. Love it, hate it, highs and lows. Stuck, unstuck. Constipated, diahrr... diarr.. diharreah...NOT constipated. And by that I mean that there are days when the words flow by the thousands and then there are those when I'm happy if I go to bed at night having written only 500.

Over the course of 14 years I've had published: four romantic/adventure novels, a series of four historical novels about the Civil War, and three historical romantic mysteries using a spin-off character from the CW series. Throughout those 14 years I have also given birth, taught preschool, taught 4th grade while hubby went to grad school, babysat, and edited. If life hadn't kept interfering, I like to tell myself I'd have been a more productive writer. But life interfering also has had a way of making me a better writer, has given me more fodder, more insight. A different perspective. 

Some trends have emerged, lately, in my interests and I'm finding my writing following those trends. I'm finishing a very fun gothic steampunk novel with Beauty and the Beast themes and Jane Eyre overtones. The process has flown and I have absolutely loved it. It's the fastest book I've written to date, and I think the fact that it's fresh material has helped. I also used a great portion of K. M. Weiland's suggestions from her book, Outlining Your Novel and that's helped keep me from staring at the blinking cursor in frozen horror.

This new novel of mine will need to find a new home, because it doesn't fit the style my current publisher is looking for. That being said, I have about a dozen ideas for other novels percolating that will be a good fit for them and I'm thrilled to continue that relationship. Covenant took a chance on me when I was so very green and knew so very little about writing. I've worked with some amazing people through the years and I don't take the fact that I'm published for granted. Ever. There was no such thing as self-publishing on a Kindle or Nook 14 years ago, and I do not allow myself to forget that.

I do love, though, that there are so many wonderful options and avenues for authors now. As a reader, I've progressed from a paper-only-purist to a Kindle fanatic. I freak out if I leave the house and my Kindle isn't in my purse. And as a writer, it seems as though the sky's the limit if one approaches it the right way, armed with knowledge and hopefully a good agent who understands the changing nature of the business.

Change seems to be the trend these days--at least with many of my contemporaries. My friend and fellow author, Annette Lyon, also posted today about her own evolution and the fact that her writing path is taking her down a slightly different road, but one she'd really already been on. And even in this new project of mine I'm seeing themes that I always seem to carry with me. I love a good romance, get angry at social injustice, and like everything wrapped up and deposited in a good place by the end. 

I've heard that any given writer will have a style that is as individual as a fingerprint, that even when trying to disguise it, the piece will have certain "tells" that would give her away to a careful observer. I'm sure this is probably true. My voice, while a little more settled in and anchored these days, is also there in my beginning novels and runs through my contemporaries and historicals alike. So indeed, as much as things change, they also stay the same. I find that a favorite author will still be a favorite author, even if he produces a book that maybe wasn't as good for me as the last one he wrote. More often than not, the voice is there. It is the constant. 

So here's to change! And here's to consistency. May they ever remain lovely bedfellows. :-)


CTW said...

I love your optimistic attitude. If you aren't willing to change and try new things then it's hard to grow. It sounds like you are a versatile author. I envy that.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

It's just too bad that change is so scary sometimes! It can be tempting to stay with the status quo.

Debra Erfert said...

I think it's great fun writing in different genres. And I don't see you getting much further away from historical romances than gothic steampunk. I know your voice will shine through.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Thanks, Debra. :-) I appreciate the vote of confidence!

Josi said...

I'm so excited for this new book and just love your perspective and calmness and continual forward motion. I've no doubt that great things will continue to come your way.

Annette Lyon said...

Change is completely terrifying at times, isn't it?

Knowing other writers and hanging on together is such a huge comfort.

Thanks for the nod.

Jenny Moore said...

I am surprised that the new genre seems so different to you. It seems to flow so well, but like you said, voice is the constant, and I love your voice whether it's in a Jane Eyre-ish Steampunk fairy tale, or a historical war romance, it's what makes you great!

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Thanks, friends. :-)