If they handed out literary awards for whining and murmuring, there was a time I would’ve had a shelf full of them. If I had kept it up, I probably could’ve won the lifetime achievement award. I couldn’t see how I was ever going to get to the end of the manuscript. And if I did, I wasn’t sure anyone wanted to read it. I didn’t seem to get the really good daily word count other writers got. I was told I had a unique “voice” and that produced anxiety. Was it too unique for the market?
What was the antidote to all this anxiety? Writing. Writing itself was the answer to my frustration. I just kept writing and learned that I indeed wrote at the exact speed I wrote, and that was that. I had the voice I had, and it seemed to be a bit unique, but others had unique voices too, and that was that.
When I was coming up, there was a lot of talk about not letting anyone influence you to alter your voice. Perhaps there is still talk of that among newbie writers and even among more established writers. I came to learn that my special and unique voice swam among an ocean of exceptional voices in Christian fiction.
When I first started out, there was a discussion as to whether Christian fiction was inferior in catering to general market fiction. I worried about that. Would I measure up? I don’t hear that kind of talk as much anymore. It seems as if there’s been a Renaissance in Christian fiction. Many Christian fiction writers are at the top of their game. I know I’ve grown as a writer and I hope I keep growing.
The other thing that helped me get over my writer’s anxiety was reading. Yes, reading. I read the best in my genre: Christian mystery and detective stories. I read Donn Taylor, Nancy Mehl, Mark Young, Sibella Giorello, Robert Liparulo, Luana Erhlich, J. Mark Bertrand. H.L. Wegely, and others. As I read, I noted how they wrote, how they turned a phrase, what made me keep thumbing pages (or in my case, flipping the Kindle pages). Each author had their own unique voice and their voice was not my voice. I never copied them, never even contemplated that. I learned from them.
I also like to read writing tips written by authors I admire. I confess, I get bored with long articles about grammar and syntax, even when written by authors I look up to, but something concise is just my thing. Out of a list of six or more tips, several will resonate with me. I’ll study them and keep them in mind while writing. Some of them will become second nature to me. Those tips that don’t resonate with me, fagedaboutit. (I’m from Brooklyn, NY.) I love what renown crime fiction and suspense thriller writer Elmore Leonard said, “I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
Private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels teams up with Deputy Dawson Hughes to find a geeky radio broadcaster’s missing wife and young daughter. They fear the woman and child were taken by Islamic terrorists as revenge against the husband’s pro-Israel, conspiracy theory broadcasts. The investigation takes Ronnie and Hughes from a manicured Connecticut estate to interviews with an elitist A-list society crowd, as well as run-ins with cranky local police detectives. Then they plunge deep into the seamy, drug-riddled underbelly of the fashion world with the specter of international terrorism hovering.