Friday, August 15, 2008

The Books that Choose Us

Anyone who writes will tell you that they've all had at least one project that chose them, rather than them choosing it. It's generally a project of some importance to the writer and may or may not get the attention and respect it deserves in the market, but the author feels forever changed for having completed it.

As I look back on the things I've chosen to write, or the things that have been chosen to be written by me, I can see how each project has not only been a reflection of who I was when I wrote it, but how each project shaped me. Each book taught me and made me grow, sometimes painfully but always for the better.

When I first started writing, my main area of interest was historical fiction. My first two books were historical and they each took a lot of research, which left me feeling drained and not quite whole. When my next book idea came, I was rather shocked to discover that it was a contemporary mystery. Wasn't I a historical fiction author? Would I be denying my true self if I veered off my path and wrote something so different? But it was a book I needed to write. My first book included the bombing of Pearl Harbor and then the victims of the atomic bomb. My second book involved the Nazi concentration camps. The books only reflect the smallest amount of the research I did, and the pictures I saw and the accounts I read drained me of my inner joy -- I had to write something light in order to restore my internal balance. So I wrote that contemporary mystery, called it "Faith Beyond Fear," and am currently awaiting word from a publisher on its status.

Right now I'm working on a new series of comedic mysteries about elderly ladies who fancy themselves amateur detectives. This series also chose me. I needed something that would make me laugh. I needed to rediscover the joy of writing, of using words for words' sake. This series has been a blessing in my life, giving me a good chuckle as I sit down at the computer every day to see what those crazy ladies are up to now.

Have I turned my back on my historical fiction roots? No -- I've still got some great ideas for historicals to write in the future. But for right now, just this minute, I'm writing what I most need to write, and I hope that my stories will touch my readers as much as they've touched me.

15 comments:

Karen said...

Sounds intriguing. I can't wait to read the first one! You have a wonderful sense of humor in your blog, I can only imagine what you'll do with it in a book:)

Annette Lyon said...

Wow--I'm very much in the same boat right now. After writing four historicals back to back, a very much contemporary book jumped into my head and demanded to be written. I'm close to finishing it, and it's been a very different ride than anything I've written in years.

Amanda said...

I have to have multiple projects going or I get drained, and some of them definitely have to be lighter. I work more with short stories than novels, but the same principle holds true. If I write too much that drains me, I can't write any more on the serious stuff until I fill myself up with a little bit of lightheartedness, whether that be a happy ending or a satire or something just plain funny.

Jen said...

Good luck on your new endeavor!

Anna Maria Junus said...

Do you only read one type of book? Of course not. So I don't see why writers need to write only one type of book.

Your crazy ladies sound like fun. I'm writing a book with crazy people in it too.

Pink Ink said...

I worry sometimes that I am not writing a niche...it's good to know I am not alone!

Yeah, sometimes, just breaking away from the usual gets our writing going again.

Jennifer said...

Tristi, I can't wait to read your new book! It sounds so fun. Good luck with everything.

Shanna Blythe said...

That sounds like fun!

Shari said...

Thanks for this blog post. It's good to have permission to follow your heart. It was very meaningful to me to see this from your perspective.

Keith Fisher said...

Having been one of the ones lucky enough to look at parts of this series, I can testify your funny bone will be tickled and resonate to your toes. Tristi has written three very good historical novels, but her humor will be a bright night light, shining in the darkness.

Seriously, you will love the series.

Nichole Giles said...

I so know how you feel. My first (publishable) book chose me, and though it has been rejected several times, I know it was supposed to be written.

I love the new series you're working on, and am so, so glad Ida Mae showed up and asked you to write her story. She sure keeps me giggling. I can't wait to own a copy of the entire series.

Nichole

Shellie said...

Just catchin up on about 20 posts here! Things have been fun while I was gone, I can see. I totally agree with the you know your kids best, and quite frankly, some teachers know them the worst! Interesting about the books, it's like you have two types of books balancing each other out. Sounds great!

~paulette said...

course, it was more like my MC who chose me. We argue about the coarse of "his" book more than my hubby and i have ever argued in our entire marriage! And, as always, if anything goes wrong, it's always my fault. :)

Haley Hatch Freeman said...

I know what you mean, my book, my purpose in sharing my story of serviving anorexia definitely chose me as well.
Another endeavor is pusing into my mind but I haven't decided if I'm going to take it on yet.
I'm excited to read your comedy series and get a glimps of your sense of humor. I'm proud of you for following your heart.

Rachelle said...

Great post Tristi. You have such a wonderful way with words. I'm glad you're enjoying what you're writing and I totally "get" what you're saying. Can't wait to see more from you. :)

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