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Friday, February 08, 2008

Dare to be Different, part 2

by Ruth Logan Herne

Click here for part one

We, as writers, are actually at a remarkable time in the romance industry. At this very moment, we are at a juncture as evidenced by the ongoing controversy of “Women’s Fiction” vs. “Romance”. Chick lit, Mommy lit, even Lad lit (okay, that’s just scary), are all taking their place in the publishing industry because the reading public buys them.

Readers clamor for good stories. Great writing. And while I understand that certain imprints work well within specific demographics, I am very pleased to see the market opening up to various types of romantic literature that isn’t simply qualified as ‘Romance’. The tag has acquired industrial built-in restraints that don’t work well with all authors, and that’s okay.

I’m a firm believer in stretching your options. Trying your wings. Testing the water. Grandma used to hold my babies and say, “When they stretch, they grow.”

Physiologically, I’m not sure that’s fact, but then the whole chicken soup theory proved true so I’m not about to argue. Grandmas know lots of things.

As a writer, when you stretch, you do grow. Your depth and scope lends itself to different levels of creativity. Don’t ever be afraid to go ‘out of genre’. To strike out on your own, set your own rules.

Oh, I know. Those words go against everything you generally hear at a conference or a workshop.

Tell it to J. K. Rowling. Or Nora. Or Jan Karon. Clive Cussler.

There is growing room for diversity in the marketplace. It’s demanded by readers and being supplied by writers like yourself all over the globe.

We all know the basics of writing. Conflict, plot, characterization, timing. Sometimes we get it really right; other times we struggle with one point or another. But we understand what they are.

Now take those basics and write what your heart demands. Bend the rules, curve the parameters.

Did you know that Clive Cussler’s agent had him for nearly five years before selling any of his work? Time and again he was urged by his partners and bosses to ‘dump Cussler’. He refused. He saw the intrinsic value in the man’s work, and stuck it out.

Cussler is now a world-famous best-selling author of adventure stories, with over 70,000,000 books in print. (Yeah, you counted the zeroes correctly.) He was just a little ahead of his time. But by the time his turn came, the man was well prepared to take success by the horns and ride with it.

Be your own person. Go your own way.

That doesn’t mean you skip the basics. Not if you want to sell your wares. But I’m a big believer in forging ahead despite what others may think or say. A huge believer in shaping your own destiny. It’s right there for you. All you have to do is provide the will, the hard work and the determination.

And patience. Lots of that. But never just sit and wait. Work, work, work, getting your name out there, onto desks, into files. Show them you’re in for the long haul, that you’re not a one-shot writer who had a good idea, acted on it, and never had another cognitive thought in her life.

And if you should find yourself in Emerson’s yellow wood, weighing decision on which way to go, don’t be afraid to take the path less traveled.

It could make all the difference.

Ruth Logan Herne loves God, family, country and sometimes dogs. When she’s not hard at work torturing young children, she writes wonderful stories of faith, family, hope and inspiration. She loves chocolate and has discovered Starbucks caramel/mocha frappuccinos. Watch out.


  1. Great post. I keep on writing, as the mail goes out and then comes back and hits me in head with the rejection envelope.......

    And so the process continues, lol.


  2. Uh, Ruthy, that was Robert Frost, not Emerson. LOL! But it's okay.

    I agree with you, and I hope you're right, since I'm a nonconformist!

  3. Ruth=a woman who tortures young children, loves chocolate, and caramel/mocha frapps>>>where have you been all my writerly life!

    Thanks for sharing this encouraging post. I agree that too many of us, especially first-time writers like moi, hesitate to blaze our own paths. The irony is that often is the path that could lead to our destination.

    I just signed with someone who read a manuscript that many thought an agent would avoid from a first-timer. of course, some of it does mean finding the right agent for the right ms.--not like it didn't garner rejections before that!

    Patience and work---you said it, sister!


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