Getting Outside My Comfort Zone
These past few days have taken me way outside my comfort zone. And there is more to come. I think of myself as a naturally very shy person, yet I did well in a competitive sales environment and became one of the top Realtors in my area. My nature was to be sweet and nice and not to “rock the boat” but I learned to become what my clients liked to call “the velvet hammer.” I like being underestimated. Thrills me when I can surprise someone with what I can do. And getting outside my comfort zone thrills me the same way.
I don’t write police procedurals or murder mysteries, but every book I write has some element of danger, or darkness, or some psychological threat, if not physical threat, to add another layer to the story, the romance. If it were up to me, I’d just write lovely sex scenes day in and day out, so I had to learn to write these other things because, believe it or not, just sex scenes is boring. It’s boring for me to read, even when it’s done well, and I think it becomes boring to the readers. What endears a reader to a writer or to the characters is the personality of the character, not just the body parts, but also the heart and soul of the character, and the circumstance they find themselves in, the story. We want to care about the character and what happens to him or her.
So, learning about blowing up things, including commercial airplanes and buildings, learning the behind the scenes parts of crime investigation, psychological profiling, SWAT and K9 techniques, guns and equipment used by good guys and bad guys, aerial surveillance techniques, these things give me fodder for my books. It might only wind up on a couple of pages of my books, but the influence will be there.
I’ve gotten to meet and talk to several mystery and thriller writers I would have never met had I just stayed with going to straight romance conventions. And how wonderful it was not to have to be handing out bookmarks and dog tags since promotion was non-existent. We were here for facts, and I was in those classes with seasoned crime writers with a string of NYT hits you’d recognize. I got to ask questions about workings between local jurisdictions and the FBI. Everyone was so open and willing to share. Learned how one man spent a near lifetime riding with a gang and lost the relationship with his children and wife. The cost to him was great, but he did this for us, to protect us.
I met some people that I know will be long-term friends, and got reacquainted with people I only see here at the conference, and others I meet at other venues. A real treat. We are all on this boat together, trying to reach some of the same readers, but so willing to share our joys and sorrows to others who truly understand the crazy process of writing.
Unlike what the public thinks, writing is a truly collaborative work, and it is painful for an introvert. A good writer is part of a community of other writers we learn from, or we are able to teach. They say you learn by teaching, and you also learn by critiquing others’ works. The association and community of writers is so important.
I head off today to spend a day plus with family and to hug my grandkids. I’m so grateful I get to spend time with them, that everyone is healthy and together. Then I’m off to Nashville and an experience I know I will enjoy the rest of my life. New things, outside my comfort zone. To learn, to teach, and yes, to commune with true friends and fellow travelers.
I was speaking to Liliana Hart this morning over breakfast, and we both agreed, there is nothing in this world we would rather do than write. And we both agreed, we are some of the luckiest people on the planet to be able to do so.
Thank you for following along with the journey. The lateness of this post is due to me! Been a long 3 days and I’m barely holding it all together. My brain is exploding with deets. But my heart is filled with the love of my work and the love of my many readers. Thank you for being the reason I get to do this every day. Love you.