Donna Everhart

The Truth Of The Matter

For the past month or so, I’ve been redirected (read: urged)  towards something new in my writing.  As I’ve worked on books in the past,  an idea will come to mind on what story I want to write next, and without much of a break, I’ve plunged right in and started on it.  I was approximately ten thousand words into my latest work set in the Mississippi Delta when I received some advice from my editor and agent.

Here’s the problem; it appears the market is saturated with the kind of stories I like to read and write.   Always set in the south, they include what seem to be the standby issues like poverty, abuse, and racism.  These things I’ve seen since I can remember, the back country roads where the farm land has dried up and scarcely a stalk of corn will grow.  The ramshackle, run down houses set amongst the tall oaks, with barefooted children hanging out on the porch waiting on a breeze to stir up since they don’t have air conditioning.   The blank staring eyes of a small girl, whose wrists aren’t much bigger than her fingers, cowering in fear as her uncle walks up to her.  The old black man with a special nickname, representative of two generations removed from slavery.

The truth of the matter is this; there are only “x” number of editors who may have authors writing about the same kind of stuff.  It only makes it harder for someone like me, to catch a break.   So.  I’m going to write something different.  I had an idea for a fourth book, just a vague idea, mind you, and the past month has been spent trying to decide,  at an extraordinarily high level (like the fifty thousand foot view), of what this story could be about.   After two feeble attempts – because this truly is totally out of my genre – I’ve shared the latest nosebleed view of my new book idea with my agent, and the third time was a charm.   Approved to proceed.

Now, as a friend put it, “you only have to write it.”   Which will result in this:  for the next several months, as I plunder my way into this new territory.  I’m excited, and at the same time nervous.   This, for me, is like being used to running, and now someone says, hey, no running for a while, you have to mountain climb.  And… I don’t do heights very well.

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?

8 thoughts on “The Truth Of The Matter”

  1. I stepped out of my comfort zone; actually leap out, two weeks ago. Way too comfortable with my ‘one’ newspaper column I queried an editor, then pitched her and bam…she wanted to take me on. I’m going to be in eight newspapers, over 100,000 households and have access to the parent-paper and its ancillary publications, like magazines. What has me in unfamiliar territory is how serious this offer was, and is, and that because it is more far reaching I won’t be looking my readers in the eye.
    That you are working on a project unlike that which you have done before is awesome and very brave. Proper southern lady, pardon my frankness, but you’ve got balls.
    Greatness comes to those who take a chance.

    1. Awwww Wry, if you were here, I’d hug you. Hey if it takes balls, then that’s what I want…and probably need.

      I recollect your unbelievable leap into that large audience just about two weeks or so ago…it’s awesome how your perseverance has paid off. Good for you – you deserve it.

  2. Gawd, I haven’t been remotely near my comfort zone in years. I doubt I could even locate it at this point.

    I believe you can climb this mountain, D. Truly I do. Just keep looking up.

    1. Lordy, you made me snort laugh with that!

      Thanks Averil, that vote of confidence is special, to me. I’m starting off slow and I’m NOT looking down. 🙂

  3. Curiously, running itself is how I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. A little over a year ago, I probably hadn’t run twenty steps in twenty years. Yet now I’m training for a half marathon and have run 25 miles in the last six days. So I’m literally trying out some new muscles.

    As for my writing, I think I am still trying to find that zone. I’ve dabbled in a few genres, but I realized that since I don’t, um, read those genres myself, I really am no good at writing them. Funny, that. But I’m currently obsessed with my Fathers and Sons stories, which are character based and perhaps “literary,” so maybe that’s where my comfort lies. It certainly seems to be what’s working for me right now.

    Of course you’re the one who has to stand and deliver, but I think it’s fantastic that you have two people who are offering you professional guidance and encouragement. I wonder what that would do for my efforts. (I suspect I’d be resentful, but maybe not.)

    1. Hey Paul, been the marathon route myself. Two of them and in both, the weather wasn’t optimum. The first was in Bluffington South Carolina and by the time I finished it was 86 degrees. I think I had a bit of heat exhaustion b/c an hour later I was getting sick by the side of the road as we drove home. Fun huh. The other was run at the Outer Banks and I kid you not, there was a Nor’easter blowing in that day – ran the last two hours in the rain with wind gusting up to 35 mph. Fun again. 🙂 I finished both in about 4 hrs, 45 mins. My goal was 4 1/2 hours but…hey I did them. I love running so, am waiting for when I can hit the pavement again. Congratulations to you on these efforts. I think it’s amazing that you took off twenty years and started back up – WOW. Let me know how your training goes…I remember the 20 milers – like it was yesterday.

      I’m with you on the literary front – that’s my genre and the way I wrote the first two…, and now, I’m going to keep a literary style in this new book, but I’m trying to also include an element of suspense/mystery. I do consider myself very fortunate to have them, plus the support of those I’ve come to know in this blogosphere. What I’ve found when they dispense the advice is they “suggest/encourage” versus being hard noses about it. And that makes it easy to accept.

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