Monday, February 15, 2016

Breaking from the Norm to Find my Voice

It was the end of 2012. I started to write a YA about a girl and her mom. They needed to runaway because of some family trouble their dad endowed them with, some real mobster stuff. I wrote what I thought I should write. Hence the word THOUGHT.

My understanding then was YA is the shiznit. You want to be published? Write YA.

Every time I'd look to my writing friends for input on my progress, it was either met with "keep writing and fix it later", "you can't do that, it changes it to paranormal", or "it's good but..." It was super frustrating since this was the first book I'd written in YEARS. I knew I had it in me to write, dang it. But then, why was I struggling????

If thesaurus wanted to make money, they just needed to charge me per time I used it.

Through work, kids, and church stuff, it took me two years to finish that book from day one to edits done. Two years! It felt like FOREVER. And then, I shelved it. Immediately. Never to query. Never to open again. It shamed me.

Suddenly, my writing life spiraled, to the point I told my friend, "Dang it! I'm going to write about this bull crap!" (I probably said other words in my frustration but lets not go there.) And I did. I wrote the bull crap. I aired out the dirty laundry. I gave my MC a true villain, one you love to hate. I gave her a husband, and kids. I gave her true writer's drama. I gave her sex. Good sex at that! I told my triumphs, frustrations, tears, and pity parties through her, and filled her life with some extra twists for plot's sake. And she's snarky as hell, requiring not one thesaurus use.

I'm writing her as much as she's writing me.

Here I am, not following the norm. Not writing the YA, science fiction, romance, etc. Nope. I'm writing what suits me. I thought I had a clue what a teen would say or how they'd respond, but hearing teens nowadays, I can admit I don't have a CLUE. But, I DO have a clue what I would say. The best part is, my betas that have returned my MS so far, LOVE my new voice, the characters, and the story itself. They loved hating my villain. My first beta ever even told me, "you finally found your voice!"

Yes, yes I did.

Once I get the rest of my beta notes back, I'm combing the MS one last time, and this will be my FIRST QUERY EVER! I'm expecting 100's of rejections as I know it's the total norm, and will wait for that "one agent" that gives it a chance. I'm just excited to finally get the right story, and the right voice to even WANT to query.


QUESTIONS TO THE READER:
1. How did you know when you found your writing voice?
2. How many genres did you write before you found your niche?
3. If I get laryngitis, will you help me find my voice again?


25 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats on writing what's in your heart to write and getting ready to query. Awesome! I ended up shelving my first try at writing too.

JoJo said...

You should totally just write however the spirit moves you. Can you self publish instead of going through the submission and then the disheartening rejection process? Not to say that you will be rejected but if you submit it to 100 publishers, there's bound to be at least one rejection.

Pat Hatt said...

Finding ones voice sure works. I don't really write for one genre, as I have too many voices in my head.

Bish Denham said...

I fiddled around with fantasy for many years, thinking I'd be the next Tolkien while inside I always knew I was meant to write for the tweeners and younger. I love that age group because that was the age when I had a wonderful time. I want to pass on some of that wonder and magic.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Sounds like you had fun writing it! And good luck with the publication process!

Elephant's Child said...

Big, big congratulations. Not for finding your voice - but for listening to the one you always had.

Andrew Leon said...

Why bother with an agent?

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I am working on my notes, and yes, you did find your voice. (I did the line edit thing you aid you didn't need, but well, that's what friends are for, right?)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

So happy you found that place where your voice could come out. I don't write to fads either. I love science so I'm comfortable with my space operas.

Chrys Fey said...

Listening to other writers can be a pain because they all have an opinion over what you should be writing or how you should be writing your book. We have to shut them up and do our own thing. I'm so glad you wrote your book because I LOVED it. The voice is spot on. The character is great. I enjoyed the humor and the sex. ;) You'll find an agent for it. I know it.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I think it's good that you're writing what suits you rather than writing for the norm, because then you're more likely to enjoy writing. Then it's easier to sit down and get it done, because otherwise you might dread it or postpone it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tammy - good luck with whichever way you go ... and listening to your own voice as you progress the story forward. Chrys is very encouraging ... keep going - cheers Hilary

Leandra Wallace said...

So glad you found your true self! There's nothing worse than writing something that doesn't feel like you. Wishing you all the best when you start querying- so true it only takes one!

Misha Gericke said...

Awesome! The easiest way to lose one's voice is by writing something they don't care for. So if you lose yours, just write that sh*t.

S.P. Bowers said...

Never write to the 'norm'. It won't ring true. Write true, and that will be a good story.

Jemi Fraser said...

I've taken 5 years writing a variety of styles and genres and age groups and voices to find my own voice. I've settled on contemporary romance with a hint of both humour and suspense. And I think it's working :) Good luck with yours!

Loni Townsend said...

Woot!!

My voice varies depending on the character. At least I think and hope it does. If it doesn't, well, crap...

Crystal Collier said...

Wait, there's a niche? ;) I write several genres and have a different voice for each of them--all aspects and personality pieces of me. My strongest voices are in Adult dark humor, YA Urban Fantasy (with romance, of course), and MG Fantasy. The more I write, the more I find these three spots are where it's at...but lately I keep gravitating to adult stories with the dark humor stuff. Is it possible I'm losing my YA-ishness? *gasp*

Christine Rains said...

That's awesome! A great way to bring out a character's voice is to bring out their dirty laundry. I love doing it. Not laundry, but you know, the writing part. I grew up determined to be a horror writer just like Stephen King. I still like writing dark and paranormal stuff, but it took me a long time (I refuse to say decades as that will give away my age!) to accept I thoroughly enjoyed writing romance in various forms. And if you get laryngitis, I'd totally get you a voice box. Those are so fun and creepy!

Mark Noce said...

Such a wonderful thing when an author finds their voice:) I'd say it sort of happens anew with me for every book, but definitely did for my debut novel. It doesn't matter what you write, so long as you love it...great post:)

M said...

1. I still don't know if I've found my voice!
2. I'm still genre hopping! I started with mystery, dipped into fantasy, back to espionage, and now I've just finished a YA fantasy . . .
3. Not sure how, but I could try.

Tammy Theriault said...

thanks to everyone for commenting! your words are fab!

The Silver Fox said...

If I tried to help you find your lost voice, would I have to look down your throat?

Annalisa Crawford said...

An inspiring story, Tammy! Good luck with the querying.

I found my voice by knowing what I didn't want to write, by refusing to be labelled, by not writing what was expected. If I want to kill off the protagonist in the last sentence, I'm GOING to do it. I'll worry about selling the book later (or, not selling it, as the case may be - it's not a fool proof system, but at least I'm happy!)

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