What author do you turn to for predictability? For a story that’s not too unlike one the author wrote previously? Perhaps, it’s a fantasy series set in a particular world (a la George R.R. Martin) or a mystery series featuring the same protagonist (a la Agatha Christie). It might even be a literary author whose books, while featuring fresh characters and storylines, offer consistent quality writing and beautiful insights (like Kazuo Ishiguro). For me, it’s the police procedurals of Donna Leon.
I’ve always read literary novels that brim with gorgeous language but lack a substantive plot. These books are rewarding for what they are. In fact, in most ways, they taught me how to write with deeper meaning and still inspire me. But when I discovered the crime works of Leon, I discovered an entirely new side of the novel. Donna Leon’s books aren’t weak on sentences, but they’re not there for the language and profound insights. They’re there for the story while featuring compelling plots and interesting characters and layered social commentary. They take me to Venice like a friend. Continue reading →
This is the first time I’ve looked back on a year and thought it was a good year. In 2015, I worked hard at getting a novel I’m proud of ready for the world. My gardening business was happily busy. My older daughter got more serious about her studies, my younger one relaxed a bit despite her disability. My son did great academically and became the best trumpet player at his school. My husband, as always, never stopped impressing me with his patience for our kids and love for me. Oh, and I finally started sleeping well. Maybe because these other things fell into place, go figure.
Because 2015 was a good year, I’m inspired to accomplish even more in 2016. God, I sound like such a Polyanna. This year’s going to be the best ever! But it’s true. I’m actually ready to get down to the business of being more successful. One of the ways I’m planning on doing that is publishing my novel. While I’ve published fiction and non-fiction short pieces, I haven’t published a book yet. And that’s probably because I’ve never tried very hard. With an earlier novel I had several near-misses. But this year I’m resolved to try harder. And try again. And again in different ways like publishing more short pieces, etc.
I was inspired by the story of Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson and his dad. When he was about to go into college and wanted to play football, he was told (probably by coaches or recruiters) he wouldn’t make it as a pro player because he was only 5’11”. Most quarterbacks are over six feet tall. Being able to see over the players and to where you need to throw or move is considered a huge advantage. Wilson didn’t have this advantage. But his father encouraged him to try anyway. Wilson has said his father often said to him, “Rus, why not you? Why not you?” He wanted Wilson to believe in himself despite his disadvantage.
My disadvantage is I haven’t published a full-length novel. But this year I believe I can. I’ve written a compelling story with interesting characters. It’s set in Paris. It’s about horticulture. It touches on modern day issues of religious fanaticism and natural medicines. It could be the first in a series of books of what I call “horti-thrillers.” I’m researching agents and ready to knock on doors. So why not me? I’m just as hard-working, creative, and professional as published book authors.
If you’re a hard-working, professional writer, I encourage you to also name 2016 as your year of “Why Not You?” Because in the end, why not?