Saturday, September 01, 2012

Are Writers Born or Made?

There’s something stimulating about being married to an intelligent man who never takes anything at face value, sees what other people miss and questions just about everything. The down side is that he sometimes makes me feel…well, inadequate. Make that most of the time! He says that having an enquiring mind is a torment. I’ll have to take his word for that.

What has this to do with writing? Well, unlike my cerebrally blessed spouse, I’ve never been good at anything much, accept writing stories and riding horses. I grew up on the Isle of Wight in Southern England, literally five minutes’ walk from Queen Victoria’s Island retreat, a few miles from Carisbrooke Castle, where Charles 1st was held prisoner until being taking to London to have his head chopped off. Ouch! We have so many castles, stately homes and ancient ruins dotted all over our small island that I just took them for granted.

I guess that’s how I absorbed my love of history, kind of like osmosis. It crept up on me without my permission and now I’m stuck with it. Damn! My first serious attempt at a novel, many years back when I was only about twenty, was set in the rich English Regency period, a time of change, war and the thirst for excitement, fronted up by a king-in-waiting who had too much time on his hands. Well, we all know where that led and I guess us writers should be grateful to the portly prince. His antics supplied us with endless inspiration.

Life got in the way and although I continued to read voraciously, I didn’t seriously put pen to paper again until about eight years ago. Yep, you’ve guessed it, I produced another regency. I joined the British Romantic Novelists’ Association and with their help was fortunate enough to get that novel accepted by a long-standing London publisher. That first book moment is a unique experience for any writer—one that stays with her forever—but for me it was especially sweet. Flash back to my clever husband. At last I’d done something that he’d never achieved and it was his turn to be proud of me. It worked wonders for my confidence which receives an additional boost each time another book gets accepted. I’m now up to number twenty-one. 

Four more regencies followed in quick succession, by which time I was bursting with ideas and ready to try another genre. Romance still but modern day this time. After all, my five regencies had been snapped up. I could do anything I wanted to, couldn’t I?
Er…well no, actually I couldn’t. I soon found out just how crowded the contemporary market is and I guess I didn’t make the transition as smoothly as my fledgling confidence led me to imagine would be the case. Regency-speak was in my blood by then and my modern words sounded stilted, I can quite see that now. I rewrote and rewrote again until eventually, embracing e-publishing, I managed to find homes for all six of them.

Okay, time to reinvent myself. Again. Write about what you know, that’s my mantra. Saves on all that time-consuming research. We’ve owned boats for years and I know more about the wretched things than I ever wanted to. Plus, all those detective programmes about cold cases. Maybe I could combine the two?
That’s how the Hunter Files, my marine crime mysteries featuring youngish retired detective Charlie Hunter living aboard his motor yacht and getting dragged back into his cold cases came into existence. Unfinished Business and Risky business have been published by Carina Press. Lethal Business hits the digital bookshelves next year. This time though I’m writing in the first person from a male perspective. Don’t know much about being an alpha male myself but I sure as hell know a man who does!

I’m still loyal to my first love and continue to write regencies, now published by Carina Press. The first in a series, The Forsters, will be published on December 10th. Compromising the Marquess is the story of Hal Forster, Marquess of Denby. Three others will follow, charting the romantic aspirations of Hal’s three siblings.

So, in my case at least, it seems that writers are born. What do you think?



Fenella Miller said...

Th drive to write is an inborn instinct like wanting to paint or sculpt. The technical stuff can be learnt but being a natural story teller is inborn.

Wendy Soliman said...

Wise words, Fenella. Wise words indeed.

Alyssa Everett said...

I agree with Fenella. Though I've learned a lot about issues of craft since my first attempts at storytelling, I think a love of writing is inborn.

Wendy Soliman said...

Yes, I think so too, Alyssa. You can teach technique, but not how to tell a good story.

Unknown said...

I believe writers are born. I also believe good writers are made when someone with that storytelling spark works hard, learns and writers a lot.

Robert Appleton said...

Great post, Wendy. I think storytelling flair is something that can't be taught. The craft, yes, but not the flair. Good writers are born with that capacity.

You've certainly demonstrated yours!

Wendy Soliman said...

Thanks, Robert. I agree with you, about the flair bit, that is!

JL Merrow said...

Definitely born, not made.
And hi from a fellow Isle of Wight gal (now living in Herts) and RNA member! I'm convinced growing up on an island helped to cultivate my love of stories. :)

Wendy Soliman said...

Lovely to meet a fellow Islander! Thanks for stopping by.