Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.
This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?
Just an Innocent Question
I was stumped on this month’s topic at first. I couldn’t think of a favorite or least favorite question about my writing. It turns out that I do have a least favorite question. Oddly enough, it usually comes from other writers. But what’s strange is that the question itself isn’t annoying – it’s my response to the question that gives me thought.
“What do you write?”
My face flushes. My tongues wraps around itself. My response is a garbled mess. I’m a writer. I work with words. You’d think that words would flow effortlessly from my lips.
I stammer and become almost incoherent.
Obviously not everything. I don’t write horror. I don’t write erotica. I don’t write dystopian tales. I don’t write….
But, the list that I do write is even longer. Fiction. Nonfiction. Magazine articles. Blogs. Short stories. Novels. Children’s stories. Historical fiction and vintage tales. Contemporary fiction. Essays. Memoir. Family stories. And in my spare time, I’m dabbling with some middle-grade stories and plotting out my first cozy mystery.
I can’t imagine writing in just one genre or for one market. My crafting is all over the board. I weave, spin, sew, dye, knit (a very little), crochet, fuse glass, mosaic, make paper, garden, craft with garden products… I rescue cats and have had a menagerie of different animals over the years, including turtles, snakes, a chameleon, four llamas, turkeys, chickens, goats, a sheep… I read all over the board. (Except for horror. Stephen King’s fault. My son was two years old when I read Pet Cemetery and his rendering of the little boy’s death gave me nightmares for weeks.) My musical interests are all over the board, depending on the day and the mood. Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Rammstein, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Glen Miller, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Tom Jones, Enya, with some occasional Vivaldi or Pachelbel…
I’d be bored if I only had one interest or activity. So too, does my writing reflect my eclectic interests. I’d be bored to tears if I had a one or two-word answer to the question.
I want to retort back, “Don’t try to define me by what I write.”
Truthfully, they’re truly not trying to pigeon-hole me. They’re making conversation and trying to find some common ground.
So why do I get so defensive?
I think because at times I feel unfocused with my writing. I want to write so many things, try to do too much at the same time, and feel like I’m spinning out of control, not accomplishing what I want to in any one avenue. And I don’t like having someone else bring that to light – even if done unintentionally.
I also don’t like the feeling of being unprepared, lacking a coherent response to a legitimate question.
Since this is New Year’s Day as I write this, the first day of 2019, it’s the perfect time to reassess what I’m doing in order to mitigate the feeling of being unfocused and darting in a multitude of directions. It’s a good time to sit down and pick one major goal for each month to focus on. If the major goal is finishing up a historical short story collection, there will still be other minor stepping stones throughout the month, such as a children’s short story that needs to be submitted, or a query for a nonfiction magazine article. But similar to the thought of having a ‘Word for the Year’, I’ll have a ‘Focus for the Month’ and by doing this I can touch on several different bases throughout the year and feel I’ve made significant progress on each path.
As for the other problem, the one of not knowing what to say, that solution is easy. With our books, the experts recommend that we develop an elevator pitch for each one – one or two sentences that convey the essence of the book in a quick and easily practiced answer. That’s what I need to do here. Work on my elevator pitch. Develop an answer that delivers the information I want to share, in a quick soundbite that I can practice and have ready for the next time I’m asked.
Now that I can celebrate my first officially written 821 words of 2019, I’m off to go polish up a short pitch!