Writing Outside the Lines

Just when Real Life sucks all the energy out of your Writing Life, Real Life II comes crashing in like a hippo in a bakery and totally flattens all of your cupcakes.


One of my other “hobbies” is making jewelry. I’ve always been an artist, and doing any number of things with my hands is a necessary part of my day. I play guitar and violin (poorly), have always drawn, painted, thrown pottery, written poems and stories, knit and crocheted, sewn…well, you get the picture.

This year, I joined the Michigan Silversmith Guild and am displaying my vast collection (nearly two years’ worth) of twisted and wired creations during the upcoming Ann Arbor Art Fair. I am hoping to unload enough to at least come out even on what I spent in supplies. For those who know me, my passions are not performed out of love of money, but love of the art. So…I’m not holding my breath. If I can recoup some of my investment, I’ll be happy. If not, c’est la vie.

I’ve spent the last month or so shining up my baubles, cataloging them on a spreadsheet, tagging them with microscopic tags and placing them in teeny-tiny plastic bags in anticipation of the show next weekend.

And of course, it’s been hot, and of course it’s been busy, and of course, other things happen that can knock a writer off course.

Like having a friend die. Death is awful, and there’s been a lot of it in my life lately, and this wasn’t exactly news. The death wasn’t as bad as having to see the body before the hospital removed it from the room to the morgue. In a word: awful. But I’m always shaking out the cloud to see what the lining looks like. Silver, yes. I can use some of my experiences of the last couple of weeks in my writing.

All of this Real Life discord is in the past (I hope). So now to writing.

In addition to all of the projects I have on the front and back burners, I have decided to write a paranormal romance short story. Before you say, “But you don’t know how to write a paranormal romance!” let me say this: Sometimes it’s good for a writer to think outside the pen.

That’s right, scribble in the margins. Take two lines instead of one, or write two lines on one blue ruled line. Use a red Sharpie. Write outside the lines. Explore.

I recently took Jeremy Shipp’s writing class (again). Jeremy Shipp writes fantasy, and most of the people who took the class write fantasy. I write mom-lit, an older version of chick-lit, meaning sassy female situations with children. So why did I feel the compulsion (twice) to take a writing class from an author who doesn’t write in my genre?

Because he’s good!

Let’s face it. A good writing coach can help you no matter the genre. A good writing exercise can open up a world of possibilities you might not have thought possible otherwise. It really doesn’t matter if the exercise has anything to do with your genre. Reading a variety of books can be just as enlightening, once you deconstruct what makes the book good.

That’s why I decided I would branch out when it comes to reading. I read my first paranormal romance this year. I had never before been drawn to the idea of vampires, blood-suckers, or dead people, but was given a book and took it out for a spin.

I found I liked it.

Back to the paranormal romance: It’s not my genre of choice, in fact, I don’t think of my “usual” writing as being romance (though there are romantic elements at play) but I decided to give myself an exercise.

It’s coming along nicely.

Perhaps I should stick with what I do best, but it’s good to stretch your wings and push the envelop a little. You never know what you’ll find on the other side of the flap.

Now if I could find time to finish the other works in progress, I might have a nice little library.


2 Responses

  1. I have to agree with you, you should try something different. I wish you lots of luck. And as a Michigan writer myself, you will have my full support! I can’t wait to read some of your work.

    I’ll appreciate it if you checked out my blog http://janachantel1.wordpress.com/ it’s about me trying to become a successful published author.

  2. Pardon me, but isn’t all romance somewhat paranormal?

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