Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: Surprising Myself

It's the first Wednesday! Which means IWSG Day. Today's question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?) After you see what I have to say, be sure to check out other posts and our lovely and generous co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson Tara Tyler Raimey Gallant Beverly Stowe McClure

For me, writing is about surprising myself. When I feel like writing, I have this itchy feeling, akin to wanderlust or restlessness. It's in my fingers and the back of my throat. A lot of times, it means my subconscious has been working on something and is ready to tell me about it now. Luckily, my subconscious and I have agreed that this is best done through fiction. 

One of my favorite writing quotes is from E.M. Forster. "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?"

The magic of writing for me is like that. My brain works in mysterious ways and I don't try *too* hard to understand it, worrying that too much analysis will break the spell.  

The first novel I ever finished writing (unpublished, and would need a heavy revision to be ready) was called His Other Mother. Women's issues literary fiction, about a woman dealing with infertility and possible undiagnosed schizophrenia. At some level, I knew I was using writing as my therapy, exploring my feelings and worries surrounding a loved one's struggles. I didn't really know I was processing relationship issues from my first marriage . . .until I read the completed novel and recognized the husband-wife dynamic. I'd cast myself as the husband and my ex-husband as the wife in some ways, but I recognized the interactions all the same. 

See? My mind works in mysterious ways. 

I didn't really realize what deep-seated trust issues I have with the medical establishment, until I started writing the Menopausal Superhero series and spotted the theme coming up again and again. 

Now that I'm further along in the game and feel like I know myself as a writer (at least, better than I used to), I've actively sought surprise. As the question suggests, trying something new can be a way to grow. So far my published novel-length work is all from the Menopausal Superhero series, but I have several other projects in various stages of the process: a historical women's fiction trilogy, a middle grades book about a young witch, a snarky science fiction story about aliens, weird short stories ("weird" in this case the genre as well as a general descriptor), and most recently Young Adult dystopian romance. 

My most recent story publication was in a love-themed anthology. The other day, a publishing friend mentioned he was looking for space crime stories and I thought, "Oooh, wouldn't that be fun to try?" I'm also toying with trying out a steampunk adventure at some point. 

Exploring a new genre or a new type of character expands my thinking and opens up that "wow" factor inside my brain that can only come with discovery. Luckily, writing is a voyage of discovery, so I can expect that feeling again in my future, over and over again. Lucky girl!

If you're not already following #IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group), you should really check it out. The monthly blog hop is a panoply of insight into the writing life at all stages of hobby and career. Search the hashtag in your favorite social media venue and you'll find something interesting on the first Wednesday of every month.


  1. Congrats on your success. Self discovery is also a part of writing. Love the quote. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  2. I'd never heard of "weird" as a genre descriptor, but that may be the best one for my short stories as well. I agree that trying out new genres is a good way to jog creativity loose. Interesting that you found yourself analyzing a past relationship through your fiction writing. I've been tempted to do the same, deliberately, but have resisted so far. That ex is dead and gone, and I wonder if rehashing that mess yet again wouldn't be pointless wheel-spinning, splashing mud everywhere. Still, the material is there, and probably comes up in ways I don't realize.

  3. Those sure are some fun covers, and I'm glad you and your subconscious have come to an agreement. ;) I also have deep-seated trust issues with the medical establishment. :)

  4. You do write in a to of genres. Hope you get to the snarky science fiction story.

  5. Trying new things can lead to wonderful surprises. Exploring a new genre is so much fun. All writers should try it. :)

  6. Writing is fun when there's surprises. It's why I can't plot. If I know the entire plot, then I tend to lose interest in writing it.