I came back from Florida with a burn/tan, and was feeling relaxed enough that it’s been tricky getting back into the groove of my life this week. It’s funny; in some ways, I just fall back into routine because it’s… routine. But it took some self-cajoling to get back to writing after basically taking a week off.
Although, I did some thinking about Noah. I set that novel in Tampa primarily because it was a city in Florida with which I was familiar. I have a friend who lives there, I’ve visited a few times, I knew there was a decent-sized gay community in St. Pete. Last week, I spent time in South Florida and the Keys in an honest-to-God resort just like the one Noah spent most of In Hot Pursuit in with friends (two other women and a gay man). It was sort of interesting to examine that experience in the wake of my recently-published novel, picking apart things I got right in my novel and things I might have done a little differently (mostly, if I had it to do over, I might have included more details about the setting). My vacation involved spending a lot of time on the beach (and getting roasted by the sun while I read romance novels, natch) with the occasional foray into various nearby cities. We even stopped in a gay bar in Key West that reminded me a little of Shanley’s from my novel.
One thing I really love to see in a novel I’m reading is a setting well rendered. I’m in awe of writers who make that setting another character, or who draw it so well that it feels like you’re there. That’s one thing I’m working on, to make my setting more fully realized.
I’m trying some new things now. I think I’m constantly developing as a writer, meaning both that I’m trying to become a better writer in terms of craft and also that I’m willing to take on different genres and topics as I go. When I first started writing seriously, I wrote a lot of thinly-veiled autobiographical stories, but I find that, as I develop as a writer, exploring completely different characters and experiences and worlds is increasingly appealing. I’ve gone from not having any particular desire to wade into the paranormal/fantasy arena to the last couple of months starting to write speculative fiction for the first time ever. And it’s a great amount of fun! Who knew?
I think the lesson is just to be open to everything. I have in the last year or so read and written things I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere near five years ago, but as I develop as a writer, I want to try new things, explore new worlds, do what I can to develop as a writer.
And I have all new respect for spec fic writers who do it well. I mean, on the one hand, you get to make shit up, but on the other hand, you have to make shit up! In some ways, it’s easier to set novels in the real world (especially if you, like me, set the majority of your stories in the city where you live) and you could make the argument that writing fantasy means you don’t have to research, but you DO have to build your world. And that’s a real stretch of one’s creative power.
Anyway, these are just some things I’ve been thinking about. I’m traveling a lot the rest of this month, so I’m a little nervous about squeezing in time to write, but I’m really enjoying the WIPs I have going right now, and that’s kind of half the battle right there.