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 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.