Writing “Styles”

People, especially beginning writers, always want to know how a writer develops her style.

I can’t say I ever “developed” anything like a personal writing style because it has varied from book to book, year to year, and circumstances change–constantly.

In the beginning, I started writing to keep a lonely neighbor, who could hear my bangy old portable typewriter, from bugging me. (Yes, children, I’m old enough to have started on a typewriter, one where I had to roll paper, carbon, and a backing sheet over a roller, then hit keys that constantly got tangled.) If my neighbor could hear that, she more or less left me alone, recognizing that I was “busy”. Also, at that time, I was raising kids. I wrote around their needs and their schedules, weaving my needs into theirs. But I nevertheless managed to write and get published. We were living in a foreign country where there were many distractions, such as going on bus tours with friends, traveling with my husband and kids, acting as a parent-escort on school trips say, to Switzerland (poor, poor me!), and entertaining visitors from home. My style at that time was to write in fits and starts and to feel guilty when I did because I was “depriving” my family, then feel even guiltier when I didn’t write, because I…well, wasn’t doing anything “productive”.

When we finally came back from Europe, there were other things to interfere with my time, such as getting a job that paid better than my writing did then, attending writers’ conferences, giving talks in libraries and schools about writing. At that time, my style was more about creating speeches and newspaper articles about the life of a published writer. That was not an activity I found rewarding because my basic style is fiction, and romantic fiction for preference. I really hate having to stick to the bald truth. Yup, I’d much rather lie about how glamorous a writer’s life can be.

All of the above changed my “style” but not my general kind of writing. I wrote romance and still write romance, but began adding paranormal themes into that style because times were changing, publishing houses were looking for different elements in the books they accepted and I’ve had a life-long love-affair with minds that can do stuff. I even, once, wrote an erotica romance that had SF threads throughout, but that was the only major style change during that period in my writing life.

The following has little to do with style, but with output. Before my husband retired and STAYED HOME ALL DAY, I wrote pretty much from after breakfast ’til mid to late afternoon. After he retired, I found it difficult to write because I felt it was my wifely “duty” to entertain him, listen to his gripes, his opinions, his suggestions about how we should spend “our” time, “our” retirement. After two years of this, I finally realized I was not retired, would probably never retire, and I was getting more and more unhappy pretending. Since he was at loose ends, my writing pretty much devolved into creating grocery lists and other honey-do lists to get him out of the house. That’s when the romance, the paranormal, and finally, my long-awaited SF series finally came into being because the only time I could expect to be left alone was when I was actively sitting, with fingers clicking keys. Then, like it was in the beginning, when I was trying to keep lonely neighbors from banging on my door wanting coffee parties, I found my niche again and am happily wallowing in its lovely style-free warmth, simply going to what has always my happy place, creating characters and events and loving every minute of it.