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.