I whacked off more than 12” of my hair recently. I’ve had very long hair most of my life and it wasn’t an easy decision, but I wanted a change. I needed a change. And it made me feel good to cut off enough to donate to Locks of Love. I’m learning how to handle it at a shorter length, but the basics are the same. After all, I didn’t shave my head and start over from ground zero. I’m happier about my hair than I have been in a long time.
I’m going through something similar with my writing. I’ve been focusing on contemporary romance for a long time. After a lot of soul searching over the last year, I’ve decided I really want to write romantic suspense. But I had a gut feeling there were a lot of things about that sub-genre that would be different from contemporary romance. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, let alone how to learn what I didn’t know. I tried to talk myself into continuing to write contemporary romance even if my heart wasn’t completely in it, but I was losing my passion for writing.
So I did what I always do: I first convinced myself that if someone else can learn something, so can I. That’s not to say I’ll be successful doing whatever it is, but at least I can try. I started on the internet, finding articles and blogs about writing mystery and suspense. I joined the Kiss of Death RWA chapter and immediately signed up for a class on writing crime fiction. I picked up a couple of craft books that, although written several years ago, deal with the basic fundamentals of suspense and answered a lot of my beginner questions. And I reached out to a friend, an amazing romantic suspense author, with a few questions on getting started. She was kind enough to tell me what worked for her when she switched from historical romance to romantic suspense.
It was intimidating to think about starting over from ground zero. But then I realized I wouldn’t be. There will be some different tools I’ll need to master, but it’s still writing. I’ll be using my basic writing skills, but improving them, expanding on them, adding to them. Additional subplots and more characters will be new for me. As will be figuring out how to keep the reader from seeing much of the mystery until it’s time to reveal it, yet keeping track of what everyone’s doing offstage throughout the story. (I’m hyperventilating just writing that last sentence. Holy crap!)
But like my hair, I’m happier than I have been in a long time with my writing. Change can be scary, but it can also be rewarding and exciting. It’s never too late to make a change, especially if that change will bring us happiness.