Sunday night I watched The Glee Project with my daughter. In the show, talented twenty-somethings compete for seven guest spots on GLEE. In each episode a regular cast member gives the contestants advice and a challenge.
In this episode, the cast member, Max Adler, who plays Kurofsky, told the hopefuls they needed three things to make it in this (show) business.
Passion. Persistence. Patience.
I said, “OOOH, I’m writing that down.” And I did. (Who says television isn’t a teaching tool?) And then I thought about how those three P’s apply not to writing in general, not to the pursuit of publishing, but specifically to the writing of women’s fiction as I see it, and as we’ve discussed on Women’s Fiction Writers.
Sometimes it’s the little reminders — a word here, a phrase there, a Post-It note — that make the biggest impact because they take up the least amount of physical and mental space. (I like to leave as much room as possible for my characters to breathe and grow and dance around. Did I just write that and post it? Yes. Yes, I did.)
In women’s fiction the main character’s passion for her personal journey must supersede her passion for discovering or keeping a romantic partner. The passion is for making it on her own — with others perhaps along side, but not always.
As a women’s fiction writer, my passion is stories where women are champions of their own lives, and to show readers how my characters get to that point. For me, there’s also a passion for writing what some women might be uncomfortable admitting is true for them or someone they know. Imperfect parenting, snarky retorts, occasional selfishness, ignored red flags, big secrets. Occasional wardrobe lapses.
In women’s fiction the main character may not always be persistent — her journey may take a detour — but someone in the story persists, or the antagonist persists or the situation persists and spurs the main character to action. This hearkens back to the fact that in every bit of your writing the character must want something — even if it’s a glass of water. She must persist to make it to The End.
As a women’s fiction writer I’m persistent. As I dip into my reserve of clichés, I stick to my guns and I dig in my heels and I don’t budge an inch when someone rolls his or her eyes at the genre. I just keep writing women’s fiction. Even more so, I keep reading women’s fiction, buying books, doing interviews, joining groups, promoting the cause. I also persist in communicating what women’s fiction is — and what it is not.
As a women’s fiction writer I’ve learned to have a lot of patience, not only in the writing, querying and publishing processes but in learning that being part of a women’s fiction community can be an uphill battle. It’s not this, it’s not that, we like you, we don’t, we want you here, now get away. Sometimes I only realize I’m at the top of the the hill when I stop and look around. And by “at the top” I don’t mean with a book deal or bestseller, I just mean — I’m at the best part of my writing career for me at this particular moment. I am where I need to be. I can’t be further along because, well, I’m just not farther along. I can’t go backwards because, well, that’s plain ridiculous. I’m patient because the alternative is not to be patient, which accomplishes nothing. I don’t twiddle my thumbs. I write and revise my novels. I read, read, read. I learn about craft. I communicate with my agent. I write and publish short stories. I do not get perturbed or panicked too often. I’ve also learned patience when it comes to fielding questions from folks who want to ask “Why choose patience when you can choose self-publishing?” I’m patient as I watch the industry change and as I figure out how it all impacts the books I want to write.
And I believe that because of this patience, I can be even more persistent when focusing on my own passion — my journey as a women’s fiction author.
Are you passionate, persistent and patient? How does it relate to your women’s fiction writing?