Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let's go Shoe Shopping!

I recently came across vintage advice to aspiring writers from Henry James that is just as pertinent today as it was when he wrote it for "The Writer" magazine in 1899: "Don't think too much about optimism and pessimism; try to catch the color of life itself."

And this gem from Erle Stanley Gardner in 1939: "The beginning writer should write all types of stories for all sorts of markets until he has found his particular niche in the literary world. The veteran writer who would keep from going stale must take a fling at new slants, at new angles. As you go through life, wade out to meet things halfway. Never give up. Never quit fighting. Never dodge, and life will pay you dividends."

I adore those quotes, don't you? Isn't catching the color of life itself what we all try to accomplish first and foremost as writers? And when we finally get it right, when our words resonate truth, when the hammer hits the literary nail squarely on the head, the resulting inner glow of satisfaction and success can't be matched by anything on earth. We have reached our ultimate goal. We've accomplished what we were put here to do. We feel in tune with God and the universe.

Mr. Gardner's advice is a bit tougher, at least for me. Trying different genre's, styles and markets is like trying on every pair of shoes in the shoe store to find one that fits. Some pinch and chafe. Some look pretty but some vague, barely indiscernible thing about them is wrong. You feel like you're wasting time and energy in the shopping. But then that perfect pair adorns your tootsies and you know it's right. They're comfortable, affordable, and look oh, so marvelous.

I've tried on several genre's in my six-year career as a writer: novelist, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, devotionals...and feel that my best fit is women's humor. I love reading it, and I love writing it. I believe God has called me to it. And He provides more than enough ridiculous, bizarre events in my life as fodder for my stories.

Have you tried on any new and unusual literary shoes lately? Maybe you've always admired stiletto heels but you never had the nerve. Or those awesome leather boots that speak to your inner motorcycle mama. You just never know which pair may turn out to be your favs!

Hugs and kisses,
Debora M. Coty