The heroine of your own journey

The heroine of your own journey

Every couple of years or so, I start wondering what the heck I’m doing with my life and why.

Various aspects of my writing are ripe for this self-inquiry. Why do I write the kinds of stories that I write? Why am I writing sweet historicals with mild overtones of social critique about the 1950’s? Why am I doing that now, when I’m also thinking about my urban fantasy trilogy? And why do I keep pondering whether or not to go back to writing action-adventure, where I first cut my teeth in the publishing world?

Given all of the above, perhaps the more meaningful question is: Why do I keep publishing?

My reality is pretty simple: It’s highly unlikely I will ever become a best-selling author. There are a couple of major reasons for that:

  • The stories I’m interested in writing will probably never attract hordes of readers.
  • I’m unwilling to settle down into a single genre and thus don’t have a brand that will predictably and consistently turn out readers for Day 1 Sales.

Now, you might think that my understanding this reality would cause me to change my behavior, but… I don’t. Instead, I write the stories I want to write in the way I want to write them, and then plop them up on Amazon for the scrutiny of fellow authors who tsk-tsk that I’m not following generally accepted conventions and for the pleasure of readers who may or may not ever find me because I suck at marketing.

Call me ornery. Or stupid. Or self-sabotaging. Or all three.

But I’m beginning to see that, despite my being scattered all over the place in my “writing business” decisions, there’s also a common thread that runs throughout all of my stories, regardless of genre, subgenre, or heat level: It’s an exploration of the tension between duty and self-fulfillment.

It’s why I was drawn in the very beginning of my genre writing to Regency novels. I wasn’t drawn to the glitz and glamour and privilege — it was to the hard personal choices a woman had to make every day when she was ultimately considered a man’s property and without agency of her own. (Granted, few romance novels ever went to that place, but when they did, I loved and reread them countless times.)

My first two SIlhouette Bombshells featured a woman going for what she wanted — to save someone she loved deeply — only to discover she couldn’t save them and do the right thing simultaneously. The third Bombshell heroine sacrificed her heart in order to follow her duty, with the clear understanding that the moment she was cut loose from her formal responsibility, she would head out to right a terrible, terrible wrong.

My Promise House series is entirely wrapped around a woman’s choices when society is telling her one thing and her gut is telling her something different, during a time when it was only just becoming possible for a woman to make that decision for herself.

My urban fantasy trilogy is about a woman whose purpose is to die repeatedly for the cause she’s been summoned to serve, no matter her own emotions and desires, nor those of the man she loves.

Even my romantica is structured similarly: Women have to subsume their skills in service to a greater cause, while sacrificing personal wants.

So let’s get back to the main question: Why do I publish?

And after actually writing down this little analysis of my stories, I’m standing here caught between duty (do things the way the publishing world says to do them) and self-fulfillment (write the stories that speak to me).

Who would have thought I’d be the heroine of my own writing journey?

I have no answers, no plans, and no need to change things. At least not yet. Right now, I’m focusing on embracing the fact that I’m playing out, on a day to day basis, the very challenges I present to my heroines.

So, what’s your story?

Sandra K. Moore

Sandra K. Moore has been writing one thing or another since she could scribble on a Big Chief tablet. A former Silhouette Bombshell author, Sandra has given up (temporarily) the kickass heroine and is now writing from her softer side for the self-published Promise House series. This novella quartet explores the journeys of four young women finding their way — and remaining true to themselves — through the social expectations and turmoil of 1950’s Houston.

8 thoughts on “The heroine of your own journey

    1. Thanks for the validation, Gail. It’s always good to know that others are writing the stories that resonate with them — whether across genres or not.

      I’m not entirely convinced that writing what we love can’t also make us a living, despite our freewheeling genre ways…

  1. Sandra:

    This goes to the heart of our Procrastination project. You write, therefore, you are a writer. There is absolutely NO reason for you to filter your desire to write the kind of stories that resonate with you through the “standard thinking” framework.

    And truly, as a reader, I read across genre’s so I don’t get why those standard thinkers are so-anti cross-genre writing!

    You keep writing the intelligent, kick-ass, emotionally engaging characters that naturally spring from your creativity!

    1. Those with years of success in the writing industry have said it’s bad business to write across genres because readers don’t “follow us” across genres. For the vast majority of readers, one or two genres are their auto-buy, but they aren’t likely to bridge over to something else.

      So, sure, I can write whatever I want because I want to, but the question remains: What publishing sense does it really make?

      I seem to be landing on this: I write first for pleasure and the challenge of it. Any money I happen to make is gravy.

      And I can always be the poster child for How Not To Succeed at Romance Writing. 🙂

  2. So my question is how did u get to the Point of knowing u write for pleasure first? How did u reach that point of self actualization and know it was a truism and not just wishful thinking or delusionment?

    1. It was really simple. If I kept wanting something that just wasn’t going to happen, I was only going to cause myself suffering.

      There’s no problem with wanting to be a NYTimes Best-selling Author, but for me, there IS a problem with wanting it while simultaneously refusing to do all the legwork necessary to actually become one. It took me a while to figure that out. Even if I could make a living writing, I would probably bore myself stupid doing it.

  3. Sandra, It’s really interesting that you say you are the heroine of your own Writing Journey – because when I think of almost every one of your heroines, there is definitely some of you in these smart, savvy, kick-ass women you create.

    I say ‘just keep writing’ – keep on starring in your own journey! The rest will sort itself out. Your writing voice easily crosses genres – and while all readers may not follow you across all genres – I believe you will have a loyal following of fans in every genre you write. Yes, you are making the business side of writing more difficult for yourself – but, I’ve yet to read about one of your heroines who took the easy way out!

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