Friday, 8 June 2012

The Wall and the Door...

“Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. ”  --  Coco Chanel

After a long, exhausting battle of trying to beat my characters into submission, to keep them within the original little pod of imagination they sprang from---I had a revelation.

I suppose you could say my characters and I had a revelation. Or was it a battle of wills, a tug-of-war over who they were supposed to be?

It was simple, really, and liberating.

Some time ago, I'd already made the decision to expand my
repertoire to include my love for male/female romance.

The truth? Even then, as excited as I had been to reach this decision, I still felt a little guilt, the tiny feeling that I was betraying my genre, the m/m romance. Can one even betray a genre? I didn't know, but I felt uneasy anyway.

Many authors of the m/m genre are exclusive, will readily tell you they will not---cannot---write hetero romance. And I respect that. They have their reasons, and I understand them.

Hell, I love my male/male romance so much, it is such a powerful force for me. In fact, my latest WIP had begun its telling as het romance. There it was, a story which had been formulating forever. And, when my fingers touched the keyboard, the characters came to life as men. Who knew?

They knew.

But, still, there remained that sad little empty feelilng. One of my characters---one of the first romance heroes I ever concocted, a straight man---who I wrote so many stories about but never finished---still remained patiently on the sidelines while I passed over him again and again.

I, personally, find it hard to deny that woman in me that begs for romance between a man and a woman. But, as strong as that inner pleading was, I still denied it. Part of me was afraid to mix genres. In reality, I see now the urge may not have been strong enough---not ready yet---and I wasn't really denying, I just simply wasn't ready.

But then something happened that told me it really wasn't my decision at all. Something that revealed to me that I am really only a set of fingers bringing characters---who are already alive and bursting with the need to be born---from my heart and into the written word.

And it was a very simple thing.

I'd struggled with a WIP. A male/male romance. Put it away for a bit. I love, love, love the characters, the plot, the setting. Why, the main character---the namesake of the story---is a man after my own heart, essentially the man of my dreams. A wonderful Latino, even patterned after my favorite Hispanic leading man, Eduardo Yanez.

Eduardo Yanez

And then it hit me. I knew what was wrong. The character was not gay. When this realization dawned on me, it troubled me. Damn, it was like killing a loved one. You no longer exist. I can't write you. You're not YOU anymore.

But, yes, he still IS himself. He just prefers women, and he's meant to be with a woman.

Once the guilt---yes, guilt---eased, I felt the most amazing, rejuvinating energy. I was not betraying my character. I was not turning my back on a genre.

I was simply acknowledging a fact. I was accepting it. And it was wonderful.

By restricting myself to a genre, I'm---and I only speak for myself---I'm denying characters in my head who have no place else to go if I do not write them. I'm turning my creativity into a 'planned parenthood' of sorts. I'm using an unnatural selective system.

Now please do not get me wrong. Some authors are only comfortable with one genre. And they are following their natural instincts as writers. They are following the voices that speak to them individually.

And THAT is what I'm talking about. Natural instinct as to what you must write. Many only hear hetero voices. Many only hear male/male characters in their hearts. Some, like me, hear both.

Those voices---whoever is speaking to the author---are what the author must heed.

Upon accepting this, I cannot describe the exhileration I experienced. It was a natural thing, as beauiful and right as the ocean rushing to shore. And to know that I could no more confine my characters to one box than I could actually keep that ocean from rushing to that shore was pure freedom.

I'm happy.

And please, again, understand that I only speak for myself. This is a strictly personal experience.

Hey, my male/female romance may flop. Honestly, it doesn't matter. It can't matter. Because I can't, even if I tried, stifle their voices. My characters will be what they will be, and I'll love them just as they are.

Well, once they tell me who they are, that is.


Cassie Exline said...

Here! Here! Truer words never written. Our characters lead us to where they must go. No matter how many times I have the concept, the plan, the plot of where we're going, I'm outvoted. lol It all works out.

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Write what's in your heart. Genre shouldn't bind you, and you shouldn't feel guilty either. Lots of writers shift from one to another. Good luck my sweet friend. <3

Tali Spencer said...

I was just thinking of writing something similar! You're being a true romantic when you embrace every orientation to which your characters aspire. It's all good.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Cassie!
Yep...outvoted. Why do we ever try to fight them? LOL...

C. Zampa said...

Hey there, Lisa!
I don't know why I allowed myself to feel guilty. What's in our hearts is what's in them, period.

I love my m/m, will never stop writing it. But there's room in my heart for both.


C. Zampa said...

Welcome, Tali.

I like your is a true romantic, isn't it, to embrace what's in your heart.

Thank you for visiting.

Janice Seagraves said...

Go for it!

You never know what you can do until you try.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

When I told my BF that I was thinking of writing a children's story, she laughed. I asked her what was so funny. She said that for 10 years I swore I'd never write a children's book. LOL. I have the story written in my head and now just need some quiet time...

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Janice!
I sure am going to try!

C. Zampa said...

Well, here's to that quiet time for you!

If anybody could write a children's book, it is certainly you! So here's to you, lady!

Get to it!