Declaring My Major

Later start on the blog than I had expected today,  but that’s fine. I wrote two pages of a scene for Girl and Guy, from the Beach Ball, while at the laundromat, did some recon for an upcoming feature at Heroes and Heartbreakers (oh, the odious task of looking for outstanding declarations of love) and took a picture for the original concept of this post, which was going to be about my inability to resist pretty paper. Yes, the paper on which I write does have to be pretty, thankyouverymuch, and I am particular about it. Nothing wrong with having the right tools for the job. That almost works as a transition to the thought that hit me part way through my process of winding down yesterday evening.

We’ll skip the particulars of said winding down, as it happened in a room where the furniture is made of porcelain, but there I was, thinking of something entirely unrelated, and then the thought hit me: I’m focusing on the eighteenth century now. This should not have been a surprise. I wrote about that exact thing the day before yesterday. I jabbered about it at lunch with my BFF. I may or may not have sent thought waves out into the ether, because that seems to be a step in my process (much like my need to circle a scene and smash my head against a brick wall or two until I bust through) but it wasn’t until last night that it sank in that I am declaring a major here.

Back in another life, I majored in early childhood education. The most important thing I learned by studying that discipline is that I am not suited for early childhood education. If I ever master time travel and end up as a seventeen-year-old college freshman again (though, seriously, if I ever master time travel, my own seventeenth year is not where I would be going) I would strongly counsel seventeen-year-old me to go with her gut and major in drama, like I originally wanted to do. Declaring a major means deciding where the majority of  my time and mental energy is going to be allocated. That decides what I study, how much I study it, and what things have to get moved to the side to give my main area of focus some breathing room.

For a writer, that means we are now in the realm of branding. As an advertising executive’s kid, I learned, from an early age, that how a thing is presented has an effect on how that thing is perceived. Writers need to let readers know what kind of story they can expect when they pick up one of our books. What kind of story are we going to tell them? In what kind of world is this story going to take place? For historical romance readers, in what era do these stories happen, and how much is the history going to affect the romance? All important questions, and all part of building a brand.

I am still a temporal nomad at heart (can we call this interdisciplinary studies?)  I love a lot of periods. I have a rough draft of a Golden Age of Piracy romance, which may need to be two books (because I didn’t count on falling in love with my heroine’s parents in that one, and kind of want to play with them for a while) and a post-apocalyptic medieval romance (the Black Plague counts as an apocalypse – fifty percent of Europe taken out in a twenty year span? Totally counts.) and they will get written. I still want to write more seventeenth century, and I will. That dewy-eyed twenty-three-year-old hasn’t given up on the Tudor era, either, and I want to write in the Edwardian era again, but moving forward with a career plan means figuring out what kinds of stories I want to tell for the foreseeable future, and, last night, my brain told me what that was.

This is a good thing. Picking a major means focus. It means that eighteenth century romances get precedence on my TBR shelves. Not that I can’t read books set in other eras (hello, temporal nomad here :waves:) and a good story can be set anywhere, but, right now, seeing how others who have gone before me do what I am doing now becomes extra important. It’s picking a direction in which to travel, especially now that, with two WIPs viable to term, I’m looking at what comes next. I know the time in which these new stories will be set, so that settles that issue, an important one to writers who do love a wide array of settings. Back in another life, it was common for a historical romance author to write one medieval romance, then the next book might be a western, then a pirate story, then Gilded Age New York, then an Elizabethan, then Australian, then American Civil War, then…well, who knows? I would love for that sort of thing to come around again, and I hope that it does, but, for right now, picking a major and going for it is the smart move.



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