Writing the Unpopular

Persona is almost finished. In fact, I’ve got approximately two chapters left to write. This is three chapters more than I had outlined, but something happened near the end that surprised me and, now that I look at it, really makes sense for the story. 

It’s always fun when things work out this way. It means my subconscious brain probably knew this was coming and it took a while for my conscious self to recognize it.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that Autumn tends to spur me into creative-mode. I get new ideas for different stories, or better ideas for current projects, and I start to have a crap-ton of fun. September through December tend to be my happiest months because I am in the middle of this surge of creativity.

I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I just know it works.

And this year, having tackled my first historical fiction with Persona (heavy on the emphasis with fiction) I have come up with a new project dealing with the Civil War.

Well, the Civil War and the frontier. The two tend to go hand in hand since soldiers who fought in the war and survived would head West out of some instinct to get as far away from the battlefield as possible.

This will be challenging on several fronts. First of all, I really don’t know much about the Civil War. I’ve picked up some documentaries to help remember what I was taught in history class and, funnily enough, have been enjoying them whenever I have a minute between homework and housework and the kiddo.

Secondly, Dan Wells joked about the fact that nobody reads Westerns anymore. (He’s one of the authors on Writing Excuses, a podcast I sincerely hope every author listens to.) Given that this project would eventually find its way into the West I had to cringe a bit. But, I’d rather write a book that I would love to read than write a book based on trends.

Even if that trend is several years long.

No, really. I checked out the Western shelf in Hastings to discover it was drastically smaller than every other section and had all of five prominent authors on it — including Louis L’Amour.

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this since I’ve never actually read a Western myself. I watched Lonesome Dove when I was a kid, and High Noon in school, but I can’t say I’ve actually picked up a book that followed gunslingers and the like.

I did read a truly terrible romance novel based in the Old West. I won’t name the author or anything, but I will say that I scoffed through the first fifty pages and then stopped reading.

So I am faced with a new challenge here. I love the story concept and the character — I always start with a character and this one is named Alex Huntly — and I’ve wanted to write something that dealt with the West and pioneers since I was in High  School. But the truth is that it probably won’t find a home with a publisher.

My gut instinct is to write it anyway. I imagine a lot of people would tell me it is a waste of time, but then I have to examine why I write in the first place. And the truth is, I don’t write to please other people. I write the story in front of me because it’s the story that inspires me; be it fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction or, Heaven help me, a Western.

So! As soon as Persona is done I’ll start the groundwork on this new novel. If only three people in the world read it then that’s fine.

On a side note, I’ll be using NaNoWriMo to complete the last 15,000 words of Usurper. Trenna fans will be happy to know that this third book in the Sedition series should be out next year, barring any complications with the publisher.

 

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2 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t shy away from any genre. If the book is what you want to write and a “Western” edge is how it comes out, then stick to it and make it the best book you possibly can. I think anyone who says a certain genre isn’t “the thing” anymore is ridiculous. I’ve heard people say it about almost all genres, but you know what? I still see those genres ranking high and getting great reviews. Tastes will always change, people will always be curious about a good book, and tried and true fans of a genre will always be there. Good luck!

    Reply

  2. Yeah. I love reading lots of different things myself so I always imagine other people do too. I don’t think any reader would be stubborn and say they only read one genre and nothing else.

    You’re right. Tastes change. Thank you!

    Reply

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