Today is day three of Nanowrimo. For those who do not know, Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month. An annual internet based writing project that’s been around for about 15 years. The goal is writing a solid first draft of a 50K+ world length novel between November 1st and the 30th. The idea is to focus on completion rather than perfection and to avoid procrastination traps such as constant revising, editing and/or researching. It can be an effective tool for getting past writers block. For a variety of reason, and for the first time ever, I have decided to participate. Yes, I know I am already a couple days behind. It was my weekend with my kids and that was my priority.
A big part of Nanowrimo, and a large reason for my wanting to do it, is it is a wonderful exercise in creativity and a chance to step outside of your comfort zone. I want to write something very different than what I have written in the past. I want to write a Paranormal Romance. Why PR? Well, I like to read them. I have thoroughly consumed books by Charlaine Harris, Darynda Jones, Ilona Andrews, and others. I honestly enjoy the genre. Now, to be fair its a pretty broad genre, from the relatively chaste to the practically pornographic. I personally tend to enjoy the ones that are more focused on the stories and characters and less so on naughty bits and sexy time. Not that there is anything wrong with naughty bits and sexy time, but when it comes to a story, I find love more compelling than heat. And I believe that a little description and a lot of imagination can go a long way. So then why PR? Love can be a compelling motive without being the primary focus of the story. I did that with my novelette The Sexton and the Reaper. It comes back to me stepping outside of my comfort zone as a writer and a person. Writing a novel that clearly falls into PR (even if it is not too steamy) should be a challenge and allow me to write the kind of book I enjoy reading.
But here are my concerns. If I am known as a writer at all, it is as a children’s author. Could it effect how I am viewed in Children’s Lit. Then there is the fact, I am a man. This present some challenges. For one the genre is dominated by woman. The majority of readers are woman, and the vast majority of writers are woman. While I might be able to successfully channel my inner 5 year old female elephant, I worry that I might have challenges writing an adult woman in a believable multidimensional way.
But here is why I want to try. I love my Egret the Elephant series. I want to keep writing and publishing these stories forever. But I look at my children’s literature as I do parenting. My kids are my world. I can’t put it more succinctly than that. But if all I am is a parent, I limit myself as a human being and a parent as well. Having grownup relationships and activities make us better human beings and ultimately better parents. So by that logic, expanding myself as a writer by writing in a very different genre should improve my writing as a whole. I can’t get around the whole man thing. I will always be a heterosexual male; it is just how my brain is wired. While I honestly believe the most import parts of us, as human beings, are beyond gender; writing a truly complex character requires the elements of us that are linked to our gender and sexuality. Too often when I read female characters written by men, they fall flat**. I don’t want to fall flat, but I do not want to be ruled by my fear of failure. Besides I have women friends, in fact they outnumber their male counterparts. So hopefully I can get some beta readers who will tell me honestly that most women would never say, feel, or do YXZ. And if I am lucky, it will help me grow not only as a writer, but a human being.
What do you think? Am I potentially sabotaging my children’s lit career by writing in PR? Would you read a PR book written by a man?