SO – WHAT’S NEXT?   

       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?

16 thoughts on “SO – WHAT’S NEXT?   ”

  1. Rosie,
    such fascinating background info you have dug up. How amazing that all those actors and others turned to writing, although perhaps their scripts and other work-related matters gave them inspiration. Please write a book based on this post as we’d all love to read about others like Niven and Stewart!
    jill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill. You’re right – I have a long list of other ‘celebrities’ now turned writers! That’s another thing to add to my “To Write” list!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosemary…. go get those orange crates and a couple of boards and write! Hey, if David Niven can do it, so can you. A comtemporty novel? Okay, how about a humorous mystery set on a Greek Isle, where a “retired” female protagonist sees a murder while sitting at an outdoor cafe table making notes for her memoir. Did she ACTUALLY SEE it? Were her reading glasses smugded? Her mind too much on the past for the memoir? And what was that cylindar object that just rolled to her foot and stopped, gleaming red & golden in the morning sun shining over the Adriatic?
    She reaches down to pick it up.
    “I wouldn’t do that,” says a handsome gentleman at a nearby table.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh – Jackie! That’s top of my 2023 To Do list! And how did you know about one of my partially written stories? And that setting is, of course, the most fun and requires a lot more on-the-spot research!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rosie, You have provided some great information about some pretty interesting people who did what they needed to do to get those words on paper. Even though we sometimes try to push away that urge to write, there is always a way to stop, reevaluate what we are doing, and then do what we should be doing. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now, Gayle, if I could only follow my own ideas! But this year, I think a lot of us are really determined to live a happier, healthier and more creative life….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh!!! You are definitely touching my soul in your post this week Rosemary! I love all those inspiring examples of people who have had the courage to change direction – and with staggeringly fabulous results too. You brought up a good point about keeping your readers if you are tackling another genre. So much of genre-writing today turns out to be a “Brand” and it’s true, there are die-hard fans who feel cheated if they expect one thing and are delivered another even if they’ve had fair warning on the cover. I’m excited about your memoir – there is a book someone recommended to me which you may already know about – but for those who don’t it’s: The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith – it’s a little book but has some really excellent tips. Thanks again for this truly inspirational post. 2023 is going to be OUR year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hannah – It can be intimidating when we consider changing what we’ve been so used to doing – so – thanks for those encouraging words, and for that book recommendation.
      BTW: We had some technical glitches with this blog since it first came out, but we’re up and running again. (Thanks Jackie) And, Hannah – I love your enthusiasm! Thanks!

      Like

  5. Thank you, Rosemary. Barbara Seranella has been on my TBR list for some time, but I didn’t know the others in your post had turned to writing. Dirk Bogard sounds especially intriguing. You have a wealth of writing ideas here.

    Just so you know, I post about this blog on Instagram and on my Facebook page weekly (most weeks!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maggie – thanks… I met Barbara at various writers’ meetings. She was lovely. Sadly she passed away while waiting for a liver transplant! But her books are still out there.
      And I’m impressed that you post on Instagram and FB – I’m such a luddite. Maybe I can get some coaching…

      Like

  6. How wonderful that you know the backgrounds of so many interesting people who write–and do other things too. It’s great when people are versatile that way, and I’ve certainly enjoyed doing other stuff in the past while writing too. Thanks for a fun post!

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    1. Well, Linda, look at your versatility – as well as your prolific book writing!. You, like Pamela, are a former attorney. I just love finding out more about people – there’s a story in every life…

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  7. What an intriguing post, Rosemary. It made me think about how many people I know – including most of us WInRs – had “previous lives” in various professions before we, too began to write with purpose. Some of us incorporated those “PLs” into our work, like Gayle’s Ginger Caulfield and my Iris Gardner, while others channeled our fascination with a genre, profession, or history. I guess you can add most of us to that list.

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