These two women had been writing for a time, one trying to break into literary short fiction, the other inspirational, but each participated in the most elementary of writing exercises in an effort to become stronger writers and to help me find a writing direction. I still have the journal we filled that year in the diner. One day I wrote about a murder on a river barge. The next, a woman whose obsession with her plumber rivaled that of her love for eclairs. All of them were seeds from a random garden. Mystery. Suspense. Self-indulgent literary character studies. The common thread? Love.
My two writing partners encouraged me to read romance novels for the first time, declaring it was absolutely the direction of my passion, as it had come through in almost everything I'd written. They were right. Like many romance writers, I began with Kathleen Woodiwiss, found my greatest admiration for LaVyrle Spencer and a true respect for Nora Roberts. For eight years, I never doubted the genre path I chose. Not until I looked up one day and realized I'd taken a less-traveled road. Just over the hill, where I could share the same breeze and inhabit the same woods, I'd written something that no longer followed that path. No amount of backtracking and re-writing would ever feel right. Straight romance was no longer the gravity of my passion that pulled me along. I'd migrated.
More times than I can count, I doubted the direction I'd taken. Were the dead ends and rocky drop-offs worth the effort it took to forage an unfamiliar path? Was it wrong that river barges and eclairs began to invade my work again? And the most stinging concern of all: Was I writing to write or to be sold?
Then, one day, when I found I could no longer see the smooth road so many others had taken, I realized my path had been inevitable. No sense of pseudo-control of my thoughts and emotions and voice would ever last. What comes from that nebulous place within us is inevitable, impervious to market demands and sales concerns. Success for a writer is when that honest and raw place within us aligns in the galaxy with others who recognize a new, undiscovered path can become an exciting place to be lost in. A place where words take flight alongside mirrored birds and seeds in a random garden take root.
What's the strangest path your writing ever took?