Last year I dreamt that I was trying to become a leprechaun. I was determined to fit into the green suit coat with a plaid vest, black Pilgrim shoes and knickers. No matter how much I took in the seams and contorted myself to jam my arms into the coat sleeves, the costume was either too tight or too loose. It was only when I woke up that I gave up this primal need to be a leprechaun.
But I couldn’t go back to sleep because I had no idea why I wanted to be a leprechaun. I would’ve had to have grown a beard. When I drifted back to sleep, I realized the dream was telling me that I had been spending way too much time and energy trying to be something I could never be. But first, let me give you some background.
Last year on February 1st, I walked into Barnes & Noble and saw my book on the shelves for the first time. I was living every author’s dream. Cosmopolitan Magazine picked Hot Tamara to be its Red Hot Read for April 2005, I had the honor of speaking to OCC RWA, I was on TV and in the newspaper and I was flown out to Phoenix for a booksigning! But as a writer, I was caught in a nightmare.
In December of 2004, I decided to branch out and try writing a drama about two sisters who never knew the other existed, and a young adult about a teenaged curandera. Even though my fingers bled at the keyboards from writers block, I fought the good fight and finished those suckers. I should’ve seen the signs that these stories would not end so happily ever after. The young adult was rejected by almost every house in New York, even though the New York Daily News touted Hot Tamara as a Hot, Hotter and Hottest Read. Oh, did my ego feel the sting! As for the drama, it was so bad, it will never see the light of the day. Or so I thought.
My agent told me I had some good stuff in that drama, all of which were the comedic relief scenes. The young adult had some great stuff, too. Yep, you guessed it, the comedy bits with my heroine’s pug, Vinyl. Shortly after my leprechaun dream, I came up with a new idea about two best friends – a stay-at-home earth mother and a wild single girl – who switch bodies and have to live each others lives until they can figure out how to go back. When I sat down to write the proposal, I was laughing so hard that I had to type with one hand and wipe away the tears with the other. My agent sold it within twenty-four hours.
Remember that drama I was telling you about? Those sisters, Sela and Dori became the wild Orihuela girls … the kind of girls boys dream about, and good Catholic mothers feared. In their story which I called, “Till Death Do Us Part,” they make a pact at their hoity toity brother’s wedding to see who can land the blue-eyed hottie at the bar. I rallied up some of my buddies – Berta Platas, Sofia Quintero and Lynda Sandoval – to create a fun, sexy anthology of stories about sisters. We sold it by auction within a week.
For 2006, I resolved to stick to my roots as a romantic comedy writer. I’m not a dramatic writer and perhaps I’m not a young adult writer (although that heroine still lingers in the back of my mind so who knows where she’ll end up). But comedy and a hot sex scene are what I do best and by gum, I’m proud! So I urge you to sit back for a moment and think about what you do best as a writer. Okay if you can’t come up with anything, ask your critique partners or look at comments on your work to see where the reader remarked, “good job!” Is it plot, setting, historicals that take place between 1843 and 1845, alpha males … whatever it is, resolve to do it and do it well. Don’t waste time trying to be what you aren’t, or trying to be your favorite author. Trust me, I’ve tried and it isn’t pretty!
Mary… this is SO true! Find your strengths and make them better. Not only will it make you feel better about your writing, it almost always cures writer’s block. 🙂 Can’t wait to read the next book.
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