Friday, August 26, 2011

Rattle! Rattle! Rattle!

Where in the world did that come from?!

It’s a valid question and one that my family and friends have asked many times while reading my work. It’s true, family and friends can make for a “safe” first audience. They love you and so naturally they want to love and understand everything you do. But sometimes that can be difficult, at least from my experience. I’m not talking about family members suffering through subpar work. I’m talking about loved ones feeling uncomfortable actually reading your work. You see, family members come with baggage. They “know” you, and because of that they think they know what you should be writing.
When I first announced I was working on a novel, my family just assumed it was a children’s book. Their dismay literally bounced off the walls when I informed them that it was actually a paranormal romance. But, but … you’re a mother?! You work with children?! You’re … (brace yourself for this one) funny?! All of which I’ll admit to … except the “funny” label. That one’s debatable. Just ask my husband. He has to live with me, poor soul. The fact of the matter is that it can be difficult for family and friends to separate from their connection to you, to see beyond what they think they know. And that’s why for me, at least in some instances, it’s almost easier to hand my manuscript off to total strangers than to loved ones. Total strangers tend to focus more on the plot and less on trying to analyze how or why it got into my head in the first place.

Of course, it took three long years and some pretty hefty encouragement from my editor, mentor, and dearest friend Claudia Suzanne to put an end to my internal censoring. To get to that point where, as an author, you just write whatever comes to mind without pausing to question who it might rattle? Talk about your game changer. It’s a wonderful feeling, and one that actually washed over into other parts of my life, as well. Suddenly, I found myself speaking my mind everywhere. I stood up to bullies at work. I began to question things I’d never questioned before. I formed opinions—actual opinions I never knew I had. Basically … I became an author. And once I did, everything else fell into place. My family even felt the effects of my change in mindset. Now they know to expect the unexpected, which is a pretty darn cool place for everyone to be … especially me.
Do I still have work to do in this area? Of course. Are there still people out there who might be uncomfortable with my PG-13 level of work simply because of my “labels”? I guarantee it! But I can’t worry about them right now. I’m up to my ears in book II. My characters are calling, I’ve got chapters to write, and yes—cages to … rattle, rattle, rattle.

What can I say? (Shoulder shrug) It is what it is. But I'd love to hear your opinion.