May 15

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (Part II)

(Link to Part I)

Part II (aka. More on figuring out my genre path and what the heck I want to be when I grow up…)

During my wandering summer/early fall, I realized two things:

1) I love a good a supernatural/superhero/fantasy/sci-fi whatever. I mean I LUUUUURVE it and I always will.

2) Just because I love a genre, doesn’t mean I have to write it.

Once I released that into the universe, and looked at my writing with objective eyes, I figured out why my manuscripts weren’t working: The external elements.

The paranormal part of my paranormal romance didn’t reach my high geek girl expectations, nor did it showcase my voice and strengths successfully. If anything, it highlighted my weaknesses and made me doubt everything about my writing.

The emotional arcs and romance of my characters worked. Those elements brought me joy, but the external simply didn’t feel “right.” Imagine taking a purist historical romance author and telling her or him, “Write me a dark and gritty, modern day suspense.” Maybe they could do it and it’d be phenomenal. More likely, they’d struggle and it’d make them question if they should be writing at all.

So I said to myself: Self, you love the emotional connections and sexual chemistry between characters, the humor and adventure of every day life; your voice is naturally modern and fun with a thread of heartwarming self-discovery and lots of hot smexitimez. You already co-author erotic romance in a contemporary setting and love every moment of writing every manuscript. Why the hell are you not writing contemporary romance?

I had no answer for myself other than…

ariel facepalm

I could not believe it’d taken this long for the coin to drop. But, rather than berate myself for the time it took to figure all this out, I got started on my new book with NaNoWriMo. And…I wrote a contemporary! :D

I took some of the personality traits from the characters I loved in those old, not working WIPs and began again. (Because I am not giving up Sawyer, ever never ever! *smooshes character*) Every step of writing this contemporary felt right. I felt good about what I was doing. I could delve into the character’s emotions more, amp up the UST and the simple, small moments that mean so much in real life. I had the confidence to go with my voice and not fight it. I wasn’t riddled with doubt over the external elements that weren’t working for me. I’d found it! I finally found my writer home!!!hi five

What can other writers learn from this? Plenty I hope! Please learn from my mistakes because I work long and hard making lots of them every year.

1) Don’t rush into anything if you aren’t sure. What’s the big damn hurry when you’ve only begun the journey? If you’re certain, by all means go for it. Otherwise, write, read, explore, figure out not only your voice, but what genre you can rock with that voice. 

2) Sometimes, if a manuscript is causing you grief, all you need is to talk it through with a writer pal and get back on track. Other times, if that story feels superdonk wrong – it could be plain ole WRONG. Wrong for you or just wrong for you right now.

I won’t say that I’ll never write paranormal, just as I won’t say I’d never write YA. Maybe I will, because I adore both genres. Right now though? It’s not going to happen. I’ve found where I’m supposed to be and what I want to write.

What about you? Did you know your genre right out of the gates? Did it work out for you? Or were you like me, with a few twist and turns along the way? Is there a genre you love with all your reader heart, but it doesn’t line up with your writer brain? Speak to me of your journeys and trials. I’ll pour the mimosas.


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  1. Sydney

    My struggles haven’t been as drastic, but I’ve wavered a little bit on genre, and I still feel like I’m working it out. When I started writing, I was doing chick lit, but have transitioned into contemporary…but straight-up contemporary might not be my niche, either. My plan is to keep writing as I wander, and see where I end up.

    1. Heather McGovern

      In my experience, that’s best. You have the opportunity to figure out the genre(s) you want to write and, who knows, it might be chick lit AND contemporary AND something else. :D

  2. Elizabeth Michels

    Since I was there as you wandered, I feel like I should apologize for being lost with you and not offering you guidance. But, then I remember that I was just as lost as you were so what did I know? LOL

    I only had one twist in my path to historicals–one is plenty for me, and I say no thank you to more. ;) But, when you’re living it and mourning the loss of time, the loss seems so much greater than when you look back at it later. I wrote a time travel. What was I thinking? I don’t know. I don’t even really read time travel. It’s a cool concept, but that wasn’t a reason to devote a year of my life to it. *shrugs* We learn. We move on. :) I’m glad you found your path, McGovy.

    1. Heather McGovern

      It’s definitely NOT something you or anyone should apologize for. We’re all lost at some point and, in hindsight, I needed that time to figure it out. Looking back, it’s easy for me to see. While in it, it was frustrating, but now I know I needed those years to grow in my craft and become a stronger writer. Still miles to go before I sleep, but I’m getting there. ;)

  3. Jenna Patrick

    I love to read dystopians, but I can’t write one. I know…SHOCKER, right? Lover of dark writing Jenna P can’t write a dystopian. But I think the problem for me is the same that you had. I’d always be second guessing myself and it would never live up to what I love. So I keep that for my enjoyment.

    1. Heather McGovern

      Ooooh, I love a good dystopian and apocalyptic thriller but I can’t see myself ever writing it either. That’s great escape and excitement, I agree.

  4. Frances Fowlkes

    So glad you found your way, Heather! Because you totally have. Your voice shines in the contemporary setting and every time I read your schtuff I laugh my head off. Yay for figuring out and finally knowing where our true strengths lie!

    1. Heather McGovern

      Thank you! I’m glad too. Similarly, when I read your stories or EMichels, I’m reminded of why I love Regency and why I don’t write it. You ladies have got it doooown. :D

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