“The process of writing has something infinite about it. Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” -Elias Canett
As a writer, I am also an obsessive compulsive reader. When I started out writing, despite excelling in my Creative Writing courses, I was not drawn to fiction. The first half of my career was devoted to sports, life, death, & women’s issues. As a former athlete, sports was an extremely natural fit for me and initially, I did intend to pursue sports journalism as my career choice. What changed? The sport I was involved in, which shall remain nameless. It is no longer a part of my life, and the fact that I ever devoted so much of my time to it nauseates me. I’m proud of the work I did, because I was a ground-breaker and I’m not oblivious to the accomplishments there, but when I walked away, it was for a reason. All I have to do is remember the faces of dead friends, people I loved for their unique individuality and acceptance of me, and I know in my heart that walking away was, and will always be, one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.
I made the switch to fiction a couple of years ago. I wasn’t inspired by anything in particular, I simply had an idea brewing inside my head and felt I was qualified enough to give it a go. I have only shared parts of the completed material with one person. I did get plenty of constructive criticism initially and I went back to the drawing board and made changes. When I presented the material again, this person loved what I’d done with it, and was mad that I wasn’t finished because she wanted to buy the book NOW. Because this material is incomplete, and due to copyright laws, I will not be posting any of it here. Right now, to do so would be of no consequence. It would be forgotten in an instant because the logical question following an introduction is “When is this coming out? Can I pre-order it?” I don’t have answers to those questions right now, and until I do, I cannot, in good faith, share that work. But I can share the genre I am writing in and recommend some things you may or may not have read just yet.
I think the first book that I truly loved was Island of The Blue Dolphins. I recall reading it over and over again, to the point where the book fell apart. I still love that story and I actually remember most of it even though it’s probably been more than 20 years since I’ve read it.
For many moons after that book inspired me, it was a movie that reminded me why I write. The film was shown to my Writing for Television class and I’ll be honest, I slept through the first viewing. The professor was a burned out, petty man and no matter what I wrote or how good it was, he’d tell me I had no talent and should seek out another profession. I would not be the first writer to experience a professor thinking my writing style would sully the rest of the class. I’d write, he’d insult my work and give me a failing grade. This went on for a while. I was determined that he’d break first, and he did. The entire time he was insulting me and saying I had no talent, my work was being published by people who thought I was fantastic and refreshing. Lisa 1 – Professor 0. And that movie? It eventually become one of my absolute faves. Every time I watch it, I smile.
When I initially walked away from the sports portion of writing, I took a break to really breathe. I had just lost my Grandmother and soon after losing her, friends & people I knew through my work started dropping like flies. It was a lot to take, and I’d had it. I decided I needed a calm, relaxing hobby, so I went the path of all creative people who still need to create, but after a while, I found no joy in that either. There was no way it would ever pay the bills.
I had a breakthrough just prior to 9/11 and went back to school, even though the timing sucked as my father was battling cancer again. Somehow I managed to push through it in bits and pieces and eventually I did get a degree that pertains to absolutely nothing I am doing now. That’s true for a lot of people, and honestly, I didn’t want a piece of paper telling me I could write. I know I can, and I’ve proven that I can. No one can take that away from me. A person can disagree with me or dislike something I’ve said, but that doesn’t take the talent out of the equation. I’m not concerned with people liking me personally, as long as I produce enjoyable, entertaining work. If it’s fact based, then I only care that it is well-written and thought-provoking.
The books that inspire me most are the ones that I am positive I cannot write. I cannot write the next Harry Potter, and I’m not going to even attempt to touch that. I cannot write Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, no matter how much I love them, and I do. I cannot write Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, it’s not the direction in which I shine, but I enjoy her work tremendously. I can’t do The Vampire Academy or Bloodlines series’ by Richelle Mead, but I love her work and it’s enjoyable to visit with these characters. Melissa de la Cruz’ Blue Bloods series is off the charts brilliant. It’s a little Gossip Girl meets vampires with real historical facts thrown in, and I LOVE IT. Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series is something I wish I’d thought of. The Infernal Devices, also her work, is an era I wouldn’t ever touch. Make sure you check out City of Bones this summer in theaters!!
Vicki Pettersson deserves honorable mention for the Signs of The Zodiac series. These are very enjoyable, somewhat relatable books for pretty much anyone. The House of Night series by P.C. & Kristin Cast & J.F. Lewis’ Void City novels also deserve honorable mention. But the series I most know I cannot touch is The Black Sun’s Daughter series by M.L.N. Hanover. It’s brilliant, snarky, and as serious as it is entertaining.
I encourage you to read what I cannot write, just as much as I will encourage you to read what I can write. There’s enough room on Nooks and Kindles, as well as real-life bookshelves, for every single one of us who can produce something thought-provoking, hilarious, and just plain entertaining.