Monday, November 12, 2012

Rethinking my world

Maybe the holidays are a good time to stand back, look at your life, and rethink what you're doing. I've been charging merrily ahead, eyes always on the mystery I'm working on or the next one, but suddenly I've begun to wonder if that's what I want to do, if that's what I do best. All sorts of questions arise--if not mysteries, what? I won't, can't, don't want to give up writing, and I'd like to make money at it, but do I want to be in the oh-so-competitive world of cozy mysteries? Don't get me wrong--mystery writers are more supportive of each other than any group of people I've ever known, but there are so many of us that all except the stars are little fish in a big pond. When I was at TCU Press, I focused the list on Texas literature because that ultimately made us a big fish in a small pond. Is that my problem? Is it an ego problem?
In this day when independent authors are so much more accepted, and some making big bucks, do I need a publisher? Can I do for myself what they do? The answer is I doubt it, unless I come up with a smashing, unusual idea for a series. So far my cozies are, if I do say so, run-of-the-mill--they fit the genre nicely, they have interesting characters, they are a good cozy evening's read--at least I hope all those things are true. But they aren't breakthrough, mind-bogglingly wonderful.
I've just read the second of Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series, about a young woman in England in the early years of WWII who ultimately becomes a spy--first a private secretary to Prime Minister Churchill where, believe me, she's privy to all sorts of secrets, and then in the second book as a "maths" tutor to Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) and a spy sent to protect the young Lilibet. The history behind these books is solid, the plots good, and I'm hooked. It's the kind of thing I'd like to come up with.
When I first determined to write a mystery, I wanted one published mystery under my belt. Then, I told myself, I'd be happy. Of course it doesn't work that way--I've published three, a fourth is at the publisher, the fifth is written in draft, and I have plans for the sixth. Is that where I want to stop? I have no idea.
But the holidays are a good time to put all that on the back burner, where I truly do believe things simmer in your subconscious. I've started wrapping presents, and tonight I did my first baking--chocolate banana bread. This weekend, with everyone else already out of town, I'll decorate the house. I do love this time of year, and I do tend to put everything aside and focus on the holidays.

1 comment:

Babs Hogan said...

"Maybe the holidays are a good time to stand back, look at your life, and rethink what you're doing." Your first sentence may be an idea for your next book. Your main character could be experiencing similar feelings about the holidays. Then, she could make a mysterious choice which would change her life dramatically...that's all I know.