It’s what I do. It’s what I am. Whether I’m employed changing diapers for runny nosed little monsters in a gym’s drop off child care center or lopping sauce and cheese on raw pizza crusts, I am a writer. Whether I get paid for what literary regurgitations I manage or not, I am a writer.
Given enough virtual paper (though I am old enough to remember writing on REAL paper, using a noisy-assed typewriter and enough white-out to get the entire sophomore class high) I can cough up a story. Given enough time to rewrite and edit, it might even be worth reading. I can outline, conceive of getting characters from point A to point B with quite a few detours to points G, K, and Z along the way, create the narrative and the dialog, and tie it up in a neat little package before typing THE END.
But if you ask me what my book is about…well, my brain freezes. I can tell the story, I can write the whole danged book, but I can’t tell you what it’s about without wrapping my tongue around my teeth and nearly hyperventilating.
“Uh…it’s about this family…and what they go through…and stuff.”
That’s about the extent of my ability to convey the gist of the things about which I write.
I’ve been asked nearly 20 times in the last couple of weeks what my books are about. A few of those people wanted to know in what genre I write, and I have a hard time even coughing that up. I write mainstream fiction. No question about that. I personally consider all three novels to lean towards women’s mainstream fiction (but not chick lit, which I do find enjoyable, especially Jennifer Weiner) but then men who have read one or more books and enjoyed them get insulted.
And who knows? The first review I saw for Charybdis, couched in praise that made me all giddy with joy, said that it would appeal to “fans of Tom Clancy and Danielle Steele.”
Um. I think there was an ouch in there somewhere. And it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but hey, someone compared me to two huge names, so who am I to question it?
Except I write nothing like Tom Clancy. Or Danielle Steele.
When I grow up, I want to write like Anne Tyler. And Pete Hamill.
For now, I write like me, and me is mainstream fiction.
So we’ve established genre. Mainstream might be women’s, definitely NOT romance, but men might like it too fiction.
As to what the books are about…?
Uh…it’s about this family…and what they go through…and stuff
Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl but he can be an ass so he might not keep girl. Boy’s life is a convoluted mess of anger over having stupid parents. Boy used to have a death wish and almost married a hooker, but she up and croaked. Boy finds happiness with girl, but boy lets STUFF get in the way. Later, in the second book, boy has lost girl but really girl blows it and boy is just fed up; their offspring, being teens and all, have a way of making them finally talk. And then finally boy has girl, they are happy, but their youngest is going through something they can’t quite figure out; he’s home from the seminary and obviously not going back, and they’re worried they’re going to find him dead in his room one day… :::takes deep breath::: but boy meets girl, and, well…
I have to admit, of the three novels, I am most proud and most satisfied with Finding Father Rabbit. It was the most difficult to write, and anyone who knows me inside out knows why. But in my not so humble opinion, it’s the best of the three.
So. Yeah. I really do not do well at telling people what I write about.
I suppose, in the end, I write about people.