IWSG - A Casual Affair

Hey, gang! Hope those of you who celebrated turkey and togetherness last week did so in grand fashion. It's time to for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post (IWSG). 

What is IWSG? Besides being a collection of awesome people, it's THE support network for writers. We offer each other encouragement and commiseration on the first Wednesday of each month. Click the pic below for more details and to learn how to join.


A fling… 

A flirt… 

A dalliance… 

A romp… 

A cup of devilishly unusual tea in a strange café I'll never set foot in again…

Sometimes writing a story is all of those things to me. It's like a pair of expensive shoes so impractical I'll only be able to wear them once, with a specific shirt, and then put them back in the box forever. It's one night spent in the company of a beautiful stranger, no names or phone numbers exchanged.

I firmly believe writing CAN be a casual affair. Thing is, it took me a while to work up to being able to accept that. 

See, I've been something of a serial monogamist when it comes to my writing. For the most part, I'm a Plain Jane, stick-in-the-mud, write-what-I-love kind of writer. 

I like fantasy. The impossible excites me. Thinking about dark things that shouldn't exist frightens me--in a terribly good way. The story is a-rocking when fantastical things come a-knocking so to speak.

I like feisty characters who crack the quip-whip with reckless abandon. (Don't stand too close! She'll snap you!) Bold is usually the first--and main--ingredient in my protagonist soup.

So what happens when I start writing a contemporary story with a main character who is more contemplative than combative? A story where I can't toss in an explosion or fangs when things start to drag?

*breathes heavily into paper sack*

I get a little nervous. The itchy, twitchy shakes set in. If I'm being completely honest, it feels a little like I'm stepping out on my main gal. No, it goes deeper than that. At times it feels more like I'm betraying my very writing nature.

But it's damned fun! Like a kid playing dress up, I get to be something I'm not. I get to be a writer of "serious fiction" (well, not SO serious--War And Peace this is not). In that way it is fantasy I suppose. 

Perhaps the most important aspect of playing in the shadows of my comfort zone is that it has forced me to grow as a writer. Nothing about writing this contemporary story has come easily for me. There's no writing from the cuff. It's a blissful struggle most days. 

And like all meaningful workouts, it sometimes leaves me sore and questioning if I'm fit enough to pull it off. Then I'll re-read a few pages. 

I'll see that I'm letting characters express themselves in ways I've never done before. A good scene will jump out, and I'll think, "I could never have done this in fantasy!" 

I'll find a few nuggets of sparkling brilliance in a mine full of dark rocks. My confidence spikes (a little LOL) and I get back to digging, because I know I might just hit the mother load if I keep at it.

Will I consider myself a master of contemporary fiction when I'm done? Will anyone else? Not likely. But I will have had one heck of a good time doing it. Who knows, maybe I'll even try another one.

What about you? Have you written anything outside of your usual genre or category lately? How did it turn out? Would you do it again?

~EJW~ 




29 comments:

  1. I'm sure this contemporary story will be as fantastic as your Jenny stories, EJ! Congrats on tackling a new challenge.

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    1. Thanks Julie! I'm to the point (i.e., so into writing it) that I don't even think about how it's going to lineup next to my other work. It's just a story I need to tell at this point, which is fantastic. :)

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  2. Good for you! You stretched those writing muscles. Keep at it.
    Still in my genre, but going deeper than ever before. And mixing in other genre aspects that are definitely outside of my zone.

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    1. Just read your post--love that you're tackling something new! :)

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  3. I think that's great. I think writers often get stuck in a rut writing in the same genre or same type of story and it can make their writing stale. I think you'll enjoy writing this new project! Many writers I love write in a couple genres. Authors I idolize write all over the board. So, Good Luck!

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    1. Thanks Gina! The enlightening thing for me was that I wasn't stuck in a rut at all. In fact, I was very comfortable where I was. Just wanted to try something different. :)

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  4. I love writing in other genres. It is fun and a wonderful learning experience. Every genre has something special to offer and each one gives you something new to learn. I encourage every writer to step outside the box and write a genre they may not be comfortable with at first, because it's worth it in the end.

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    1. "Every genre has something special to offer…" Really starting to see that, Chrys. I think I've always understood that from a reading perspective, but embracing it as a writer has taken me a little longer. :)

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  5. Nice post, EJ. I liked all your analogies. Inventive. Creative. Nice shoes.

    I'm currently working on a piece that tests my limits...makes me go deep into character and relationship studies to form some real gritty dynamics. And loving it all the way. I posted an excerpt sometime in November, and the butterflies were bouncing off the inside of my guts and landing in the pit of stomach acid. But it was a good kind of butterflies in the gut massacre.

    Glad you're enjoying your piece, too.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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  6. I started with contemporary, which wasn't even my genre! The non-fiction was a jump, too, although it was something I was reading. Sometimes stories surprise us.

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  7. Very insightful.
    I only do what I like, now you force me to look out side that box....Ok I'll give it a try...
    *peeps out box* *smiles*

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  8. Work out those writing muscles!!! Go EJ! I like trying new things every once in a while too. I have a few "contemporary" short stories hanging around on my pc, as well as the start of a historical novel - I stopped when I realized I had to do loads of research. Sometime I'll get back to it.
    Keep on writing and loving it!

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  9. I love challenging myself like this for my own projects, too. It's definitely a great way to grow and stretch our creative muscles. Good luck with the contemporary story you're working on!

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  10. Anything you write will be good. I'm certain of it. ;)

    After I finish my HR, I plan to step out of my comfort zone and write a dystopian. I'm not sure if people will think it's bizarre-brilliant or bizarre-sicko, but I'm gonna give it a go. xD

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  11. Good on you, E.J.! It's great to challenge oneself. :) As for me, I write in a lot of genres and I never know what I'll end up writing next. And I kind of like it that way!

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  12. I agree with you that writing outside our comfort zone helps us become better writers. When I jumped ship on a mystery series and tackled standalone suspense as well as a historical, it was like starting over. And it was FUN!

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  13. I started writing a contemporary story, then it turned on me!! I had no control! ;) Having lots of fun though. I love your description of story.

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  14. Writing is such a roller coaster ride! Ups and downs, but also full of adventure. And a love affair. Sounds like you have found your nicht in life :)

    .......dhole

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  15. I'm working on a short nonfiction piece that is ripping at me. I have barely put down the bare bones, and am not loving what is there, but have a vision where it could go. But from here to there, is nerve-wracking! I appreciate your honesty here; I don't feel so alone now!

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  16. I write different genres. So .. Hmm..

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  17. It does sound like you're stepping out of the comfort zone, so to speak.

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  18. I don't think I have a "usual." Well, things tend to be tinged with fantasy, but they are more different than alike. I mean, you could call both House on the Corner and Shadow Spinner fantasies (and I do), but they are not related in concept at all.
    And the murder mystery I'm working on, although it has fantastic elements, is nothing like the other two.

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  19. I love that you are stretching your wings! Spin it any way you want-I think when a story whispers to us daily, well, we must listen! Congrats EJ on crossing your boundary lines and flying free~
    Great post!

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  20. This sounds more like an ongoing affair than a casual dalliance, you know. Does your fantasy work even know about - this?? ;)

    Seriously, I think it's awesome that you're stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. If you love it, it's the right thing to do. I can't wait to hear more about it.

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  21. Good for you EJ…

    Writing outside our normal genres is a great way to exercise our writing skills. We are not bogged down by the same, mundane, story line with similar situations and characters. How many authors have you read that repeat the same book by tweaking the storyline or changing the character's name. It gets stale and predictable.

    Run with it. I know I LOVE switching my writing. My first book was an m/g fantasy. Second, Edgy y/a contemporary, and current WIP 1940'a film noir. Next I plan to collaborate with an awesome author and we'll be doing a paranormal thriller…. Talk about diversity. LOL.

    Hope all is well with you and you and your family have an AWESOME holiday season!

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  22. I have a fantasy WIP on the side. ;)

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  23. Stepping out of my 'comfort' box is scary. I recently did it by writing for a YA Steampunk Anthology. Writing in a different era and genre was definitely challenging, but I loved it! Great experience.

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  24. Love this post and I've tried writing Sci-Fi without much luck because it's so far out of my comfort zone but a few of the blog comments I received were pretty nice. I might try my hand at it again someday.

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  25. Good for you EJ! Writing outside our comfort zones makes us grow exponentially. Trying something new and flexing muscles we've never used is the best way to discover new skills. Keeps us on our toes too. I've got a project coming up that I've never done before either and I'm excited and hesitant at the same time, but I know it'll be an unparalleled writing experience.

    Contemp can be tricky cuz we cant throw in otherworldly things to spice up the plot!

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky