Do you ever think about writing something different? Something you’ve never tried before? Maybe you’re a fantasy author, but you’ve read a steampunk novel and loved it SO much you think maybe you’ll try your hand at writing steampunk.
Then you think, nah. I’m a fantasy author. I don’t know anything about steampunk. And I don’t have the time to do all that research. And what if another steampunk author reads my stuff and thinks it’s lame? They’ll see through me! I’m a fake! A fraud! I’m really a fantasy author trying to write steampunk!
Okay, so I didn’t go from fantasy to steampunk. I went from fantasy to dystopian – for a contest, yet. What was I thinking? Even though it was a short story and not a novel, I thought I’d give it a try because I wanted to support Realm Makers. I didn’t have to write dystopian; it somehow landed in my lap. I started writing, thinking I’m totally nuts.
- I don’t write short stories
- I don’t write in first person
- I hate fight scenes
I had all these things in the story. I sent it in without any hope of moving on to the next round and almost forgot about it.
What happened is this:
- I received an email telling me I had done just that! I moved to the second round! And the judges wanted to see the fight scene (I had glossed over it). So, what does a girl who hates fight scenes do to please the judges? If I wanted to get to the final round, I’d have to stretch myself.
- I researched hand-to-hand combat weapons because I didn’t want to resort to the usual sword and shield. I found Emei Piercers, an Asian weapon, now used for dance. I watched YouTube videos ALL afternoon! It was fascinating. They’re pretty cool weapons. I added them to the story.
- I sent the story to a guy friend in my writers group who helped me sound less “girly”. Ha!
- I made the final round!! By now, I’m looking up to heaven and saying, “Seriously?” God does have a strange sense of humor sometimes. And one of the judges from the second round complimented me on using Emei Piercers. Wow. It really does pay to do your research.
- I make some suggested changes, as per the judges’s notes. And all the final stories were posted online for people to read (just the first 3 pages or so) and vote on what they liked best.
- I attended Realm Makers. On the night of the Awards Banquet, the finalists were announced. And then the Grand Prize Winner (not me). THEN Readers Choice! ME!! Ya know, I had said to my family and friends, if I was to win an award, I would want it to be Readers Choice. What is better than having your readers love your stuff?? I’m still amazed! And so very thankful.
The anthology is out and it’s wonderful. And I’m included with many authors I admire. All because I took a chance and stretched myself and wrote something I had never tried before. How cool is that?
All this to say, you never know what you can do, so why not try? Don’t be afraid! I’ve heard it said those words are said 365 times in the Bible. That’s one “don’t be afraid” for every day of the year. Does that spin your head like it spins mine?
Am I writing dystopian now? Nope. I’m still working on fantasy … but … I’ve stopped flinching. I’m adding edgier stuff to my manuscript that I wanted to but was afraid to. And I feel pretty darn good about it. I feel more confident. I feel happier.
Go for it, friends. Try something different. Don’t be afraid. It’s so worth all you’ll learn from the experience!
Pam Halter was a home-schooling mom for nine years and has been a children’s book author since 1995. She has published two picture books, Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes (Concordia, 2001), and several devotions. She was a panelist on The Writer’s View for 10 years, on staff and faculty for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, a member of ACFW, and two private writer’s groups. Pam is a freelance editor and the children’s book editor for Fruitbearer Kids. She was selected to attend the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy, May 2010, won Writer of the Year at the Philly conference in 2014, and Reader’s Choice for her short story at the Realm Makers conference, 2015. Pam lives in the country in Southern New Jersey with her husband, special needs adult daughter, and mother-in-law. She enjoys quilting, cooking, canning, playing the piano, theatre, Bible study, and looking for evidence of fairies.