By ROSEMARY LORD
Well – a New Year begins – full of promise and excitement.
I think many of us writers welcome a new year in which to fulfill our promises of writing goals. As Hannah Dennison said recently, “write that Big Book”!
It’s a time, after reflection during the holidays, that we can decide on a new path, a new direction. Renewed enthusiasm.
As writers, we might decide to try a different genre to explore, a new audience to reach, different publishing sources or methods of publication, a fresh approach to promotion. It’s quite exciting, isn’t it?
Perhaps it’s time to create a whole new ‘image’ as an author. Of course, there’s a risk of losing loyal followers. So how do you convince them that you’re still keeping that strand of your writing that they enjoy, but you’re expanding to include new themes, character lines, new series. It’s a way of reaching additional audiences.
I’ve been looking at new markets and new approaches. I’ve spent so much time writing about Old Hollywood and its Golden era, maybe I should look at contemporary subjects.
In working my way through my scattered ‘memoir’ project, I realized how many different lives I’ve led, different places I’ve lived, different eras I’ve inhabited.
I thought about those who suddenly took off in a totally different direction and created a new life. A writing life. Often, a very satisfying, successful writing life. Doing something totally different from their earlier success, but following their heart.
Californian Barbara Seranella turned her life as an auto mechanic into wonderful mystery book series featuring Munch Manchini, a female auto mechanic turned sleuth.
Fellow Sister-in-Crime and MWA member, Pamela Samuels Young was an attorney. She yearned to be an author, but her work as Managing Counsel for Toyota required long, long hours. Pamela rose extra early, writing before she went to work, in her lunch hour and on weekends. Eventually her dedication paid off and her courtroom dramas became huge successes. Abuse of Discretion about youth sexting looks into the juvenile court system. Anybody’s Daughter won the NAACP and other awards. Pamela is now a full-time author and, happily, a former attorney.
British musician Chris Stewart came to fame as the drummer in the band Genesis. In the 1970s Chris decided he’d had enough of touring, enough of cold, rainy, dark English winters and moved to Spain. He and his wife found a remote home in the village of Alpujarras, a region of Andalucia. They bought a ram-shackled hovel and restored it into a simple, self-sufficient rambling home. He helped the local village solve their sheep-shearing challenges and soon became an avid farmer, discovering an amazing variety of local plants, flora and vegetation. Eventually Chris began to write about his new life in Driving Over Lemons, which found a hungry audience of several million readers. Last Days of the Bus Club followed and recently Three Ways to Capsize a Boat.
National Theatre Company actress Carol Drinkwater, who found fame as Herriot’s TV wife in All Creatures Great and Small and movies such as An Awfully Big Adventure travelled the world as an actress. While filming in Australia she met her French husband, Michel, and wrote her first children’s book Molly, which became a series. Carol and Michel fell in love with a run-down olive farm they bought in Provence, France, and spent years cultivating it into a thriving olive oil business. Carol continued to write. As well as her children’s and YA books about suffragettes, World War I and World War II, Carol was asked to write magazine articles about their struggles in restoring their olive farm. These, turned into books, became a highly successful Olive Farm series.
For the movie buffs amongst us, the late David Niven turned away from Hollywood and moved to Southern France. He turned a garden shed, overlooking the Mediterranean, into his writing den with two planks of wood across two stacked orange crates for his desk. Having entertained TV audiences and Talk Show hosts with hilarious tales of his showbiz life, he turned this talent into successful books starting with The Moon’s a Balloon. It became an instant hit. Several other volumes followed.
Another famous actor, Dirk Bogard, also turned to writing. Fed up with ‘pretty-boy,’ Doctor in Love romantic roles, he moved to Europe in search of meatier, serious parts, in The Servant and Death In Venice. From his new home in the South of France came several semi-autobiographical books, based on a lengthy correspondence with an older American woman in the Mid-West. She knew nothing of his acting success, but they wrote to each other about family, the world and many things. She encouraged him to start writing books. Bogard’s letters to her were returned to him after her death, with her request for him to write books based on those letters. A Postillion Struck by Lightning became an instant success, followed by Snakes and Ladders and many more.
It’s curious what happens when we decide to try a new career, when we step off into that unknown. Turn right instead of left. As FDR once said, “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”
Are some of us writers (like ME!), going through the motions of a writers’ life, without really living it. Due to Life’s challenges and interruptions, are we just putting one foot in front of the other?
So, what is in store for us this year? Do we try a new recipe, if our writing career is sagging? Do we add a little bit of this, a pinch of that? Do we try something new, experiment with a different approach?
Envious of those writers whose lives hum along productively, what can I learn from them? I am excited to discover what’s next. What will be the new inspiration? I think that this time I’ll get it right!
What about you?