Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I'm So Confused!

I've been doing a lot more reading lately than I usually manage. Part of this is due to the wonder of audiobooks, which I can zip through while driving, house cleaning, cooking, whatever. A couple of days ago, I finished two books almost simultaneously. The first was one of the best books I ever read--the kind that haunts you for days, that seems to hold a part of you in its world so that you wander around in a fog, not completely back to reality.

The second was one of the worst I ever read. I had to force myself to finish it. It was dull, cliched, and pointless.

So guess which one I'm supposed to be reading so I can learn to write for the line that publishes it? Which one am I supposed to be emulating, molding my writing to be more like it? Yep, you guessed it.

My agent feels I need to do this as a stepping stone to eventually writing the kind of books I want to. But I'm very confused. Sometimes I feel I'm changing my writing so much to conform to all these rules and guidelines and genres that I'm losing my own writing voice. Sometimes I worry I won't be able to go back.

Last night, as I finished reading the vile book which shall remain nameless, I started praying for guidance. Here's what showed up in my devotional reading:

"The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.'" (Psalm 32: 8-9, NLT)

I love it that I got immediate assurance that the Lord will guide me in the right direction. And I certainly don't want to be a mule, although for a moment I had to wonder--is writing something that's against my own nature being senseless, or am I being stubborn and willful by questioning my agent's advice? After all, God sent her to me in a pretty miraculous way.

So, for now at least, I'll try to produce a suitable manuscript for my agent--and hopefully one that still retains my own voice and style. It's going to be tricky.

I'll keep you posted.