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Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations

The title sounds familiar to anyone who watches Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer.  Dog problems are usually their OWNER’S problems first, and it’s amazing how many annoying and dangerous dog issues he can solve simply by applying a little discipline.

My post yesterday about a twisted version of Black Beauty probably gave you the hint that I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries — harnesses and stables — this past month.  People have said that I’m disciplined, but all it really takes is a quick glance at my book list to see that it couldn’t be further from the truth. 

My interests are varied and wide.  I’ve written everything  from romance to horror and science fiction, with a bunch of flavors of fantasy mixed in.  I’ve even written a Civil War story!  I adore a challenge, and each time I see a new submission call, it can be dangerous.  I get an idea.  Sometimes it’s a burning hole in my mind until I write it. 

Even if it doesn’t go with anything else I’ve written.

My sixth year anniversary has come and gone, and I think it’s time I toughened up on myself.  I need to focus.  The freedom of writing whatever I wanted on a whim was fine for awhile, but if I want to take my writing to the next level, I need some discipline.

Rules, boundaries, and limitations.

I was talking with a sooper-duper writing friend yesterday and we talked about my unreasonable fear of limiting myself to one genre.  Or even one MIX of genres — not this mishmash of everything.  Deep down, I have a very great fear that if I enforce rules on myself, the writing will just shrivel up and die.  That I’ll lose the part of my writing that makes it special and unique (at least to me).  I’ve been in bad places before where I seriously doubted that I’d ever finish another book again, and I do NOT want to EVER go there again.

But if I want to go to the next level, I need to focus.  I need some limitations.  I need to face this fear.  Plus I’ve been receiving feedback on various stories, and it’s made me rethink what I’ve written and what I want to continue writing.

Conn and Victor both helped, but they weren’t quite enough.  See, one of my weaknesses as a writer is throwing stuff into a story that amuses ME, not necessarily the general reader.  It amused me to have Miss Belle solve a minor murder mystery in Dear Sir.  Her kooky antics with Colonel Healy put a smile on my face.  However, a few readers commented that the paranormal aspects were annoying.  I could have told Conn and Rae’s story without a ghost.


The Witch once told me that I need to think about romance as a coloring book, and I need to learn how to color within the lines.  Meanwhile, I’ve been taking a marker and scribbling huge swatches of color all over the page, totally ignoring the lines in deliberate defiance.

So that’s an exercise I’m going to work on after Victor’s revisions are completed.  While I worldbuild the SFR world of Deathright and get back on track with it, I’m going to take a little time and write a simple, wonderful romance.  Only two crucial characters.  No paranormal, no fantasy, no violence, no horror, no mythology, not even erotic elements to detract from the relationship.

Just two people focused on each other and falling in love. 

If I can’t do it, then I need to rethink the SFR because the R means romance, and if I can’t get a simple, straightforward romance right, then what I want to do ultimately in Deathright won’t happen.

If you hear some squealing and stamping and crashing, it’s my horse totem throwing a fit in its stall.  Gregar is laughing so hard he fell off said horse and is rolling around on the ground.  Thank Vulkar he’s wearing something beneath his memsha this time.

6 thoughts on “Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations

  1. hmmmmm – you sure Gregar’s going to let you do that? 😉

  2. I guess we’ll see, won’t we? If not, then he’d best quit putting romantic ideas in my head.

  3. I have faith that you can do it Joely!

    I think I’m a bit like you with my writing, too, though I’ve never tackled a straight mystery or horror. I personally enjoyed Colonel Healy but can see where the story might have been cleaner without that element. I think, for me at least, it comes from the fact that I’m a mood reader (heck, movie watcher too). If I’m not in the mood for whatever genre I’m not going to enjoy it, no matter how awesome the story is, but will find it’s the perfect fit a few days, weeks, or months later.

  4. Hang in there. I think a lot of us struggle with similar issues, and sometimes all we can do is keep writing, keep TRYING. {{hugs}}

  5. It’s kind of sad because, I, like Sherri, enjoyed the touch of paranormal in Dear Sir. But I’ve already admitted to myself that I am not the best target to aim for, because I am unlike the majority of most readers. I will read almost anything ESPECIALLY if its something weird and quirky, so long as I can follow it without feeling like an imbecile. :mrgreen:

    But I understand the need for you to do what it right for your work. While I might miss the quirkiness, I think at this point I’d read your grocery list. You write my kind of crack woman! 😆 Like Tambo said, just keep trying. Follow your heart, as it were.

  6. Thanks, Sherri! I’m a mood reader too. I love Colonel Healy and Miss Belle to pieces, and I think her quirkiness and humor help ease the otherwise heavy emotions of Conn and Rae’s turblent story. I’m not saying I’ll always axe every little side thing — but I do need to rein myself in a little.

    Hugs, thanks Tammy! You’re absolutely write (right).

    Soleil, you made me giggle and smile, because my grocery list is a nightmare — I have too many monster helpers! Half the time I can’t even figure out what they’re trying to spell.

    I love quirk and big stories too. I just need to balance myself a little better and make sure that I commit up front to what I’m doing — instead of running all over the counryside with the bit in my teeth!

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