Introducing Wednesday Writers Wisdom
Hello! It’s exciting that you are here. Wednesday Writers Wisdom has been around for a little over a year now, but since we have started with a new beginning, I’d like to take a moment to introduce the series to you.
What is Wednesday Writers Wisdom?
I’m glad you asked. I originally started this series to share writing advice with other writers, especially beginning writers. I know when I first started writing again in 2010, I needed a lot of help. So, thus WWW was born. You can expect to find writing advice shared by me, other #ourwriteside authors, and guest authors. Our emails are always available for question suggestions as well. I’d like to start the conversation and answer those questions you must have answers to. After all, this isn’t just OUR Write Side, but it’s Yours, too.
Meet Jessie Bishop Powell
Authoress Powell has generously written a 5 part series for you about her personal writing process she’s gleaned from being published, being active in the writing community, and working under the daily distractions of being a mom of children with special needs, too.
Jessie Bishop Powell grew up in rural Ohio. She now lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband and their two children. She has Master’s Degrees in English and Library Science from the University of Kentucky. Jessie’s first book, Divorce: A Love Story was published as an e-book by Throwaway Lines in 2011. The Marriage at the Rue Morgue , her debut mystery, was released in hardback on Friday, July 18, 2014. The sequel to this, The Case of the Red-Handed Rhesus, will be released in November, 2015.
AS A WRITER (Part 1): REAL
A writer friend recently wondered aloud (or on Facebook, which is the same thing these days) when she’d stop feeling like a fraud. My second print novel comes out in November, and I understand exactly what she means. I have advance copies of The Case of the Red-handed Rhesus. I’ve consulted experts, researched my ass off, back-and-forthed with an editorial team, and even signed an honest-to-God contract. I have clearly passed the “certified fiction author” course. There’s no reason to feel less than fully qualified.
And yet I do. Is there a version of me fully immersed in her craft in some alternate reality who feels like the real thing? I doubt it. Because if she’s actually me, she probably can’t follow the rules either. Completely by the accident of being myself, I don’t stick to the conventions of anything, writing included.
When The Marriage at the Rue Morgue was released last year, I was frankly terrified of the reviews. It was my debut mystery, and, try as I might, I couldn’t shoehorn it into a single genre. Though it went over well, I have the same fears for Red-handed Rhesus.
Both want to be cozy mysteries so very much. They feature hilarity involving orangutans, spider monkeys, cops, and ordinal numbers. They offer up protagonists who act like a couple of apes and work in a primate sanctuary. The main character even has an over-the-top advice-columnist mother.
But that same main character can’t escape her past. One storyline isn’t funny from any angle. And I’m happiest as an author when I’m writing intense, often dark material.
What to do.
I’ve heard the term soft-boiled used to describe mysteries that are neither scary enough to be thrillers nor sufficiently whimsical to be cozies. I hate that word. It should be reserved for novels that can’t make up their minds, that are, much like soft-boiled eggs, solid only on the exterior. If the thin membrane is punctured, the plot is liable to go oozing down the reader’s fork in runny dribbles.
Rue Morgue is not soft-boiled, and neither is Red-handed Rhesus. There are plenty of funny larks. The humor holds together. And there aren’t any of those freak-out-horror moments associated with thrillers. But the serious moments are real, and they’re important to the story. Cozy noir is the closest I can come, but that’s not a real genre.
Ultimately, I have to trust that I can put my whodunit out there without knowing if it is okay to have checked the box marked “cozy”. Five Star didn’t accept the book based on a genre, and my editor isn’t ordering me to contort the story to fit one. I have to accept that my novel is as difficult to pigeonhole as I am. I’ve spent most of my life learning the rules so I can break them with confidence.
But I’m bad at “trust”, and I have a deep-seated mistrust of “confidence”. So I remain worried, certain I’m doing everything wrong, even as I know I can’t write any other way. In the end, perhaps it is this questioning state that makes me feel more authentic than any words I have written.
Indeed, maybe it would be best to look at this another way. Perhaps my real problem is the drive to present a professional exterior, something I’ll never achieve in any field. Writing is less a career-choice and more an inescapable addiction for me.
So let me begin again and say it this way: my name is Jessie Bishop Powell, and I’m an author. I started writing when I was ten years old, and at this point, I don’t see any chance for recovery.