Saturday, August 23, 2014

Who you are - writing ME

I have a theory.  This theory is simply my observation and is based on observing my family, so its accuracy could be skewed.  It's based on observing my female relations in their home environment.

My observation started with my mother: she must have a spotless kitchen.  She cannot leave the house in the morning without doing the dishes (including drying and putting away).  She cannot go to bed at night without doing the dishes.  Her kitchen is devoid of the clutter of papers, fruit bowls, lunchboxes, coffee mugs and all the other stuff that usually finds itself in my kitchen.  I know that when she visits me she often ends up doing my dishes – I think because she can’t stand the state of my kitchen.

My oldest sister, however, has the same urge about her bedroom.  I spent a lot of time at her house when I was a teenager. She had four small children, and there were toys and clothes and mess everywhere – but her bedroom was spotless.  Her first task in the morning was to always make her bed.  Her clothes were always hung up or away, and there was never any more than a single book on her bedside table.

Another sister has the same outlook on her formal lounge room.  Her kitchen is often a mess, and her bedroom is always untidy (rather like mine!), but her formal lounge room is a showcase. Another sister (yes, I have a lot of sisters!) couldn’t care less about the state of her house.  But her stables are clean, organised and perfect.

So I have a belief that every woman (and this probably extends to men as well) have something that is important to them that is their priority and that they keep spotless.  For me, it would be my bookcase.  It is perfectly ordered and neat as.

Last week I was straightening my linen cupboard and looking at the dozens of tablecloths I own – most given to me by my mother-in-law.  My MIL always has a perfect table.  It is always covered with perfect tablecloths, and usually has a perfect arrangement of flowers in the middle.  At dinnertime we have beautiful placemats and cutlery, serviette holders, salt and pepper… You get the picture.  I gazed at the pretty designs in my linen cupboard and wondered why I didn’t make more of an effort.  It was just a tablecloth.  I could bring it out and make my house look pretty.  I could impress my MIL instead of always having a bare table.

I pulled one out and smiled to myself – I could be like my MIL.

Several hours later my mother came for coffee and I spent most of my time straightening the cloth that kept skewing from our afternoon meeting.  My daughter nearly ripped the cloth off when she left the table and ended up slopping coffee as our mugs took a joyride on it.  That night my two children spilled their dinner over the cloth.  The next morning I discovered that one (or more!) of the cats had decided it was a nice place to sleep and had left cat hair and sand on the cloth.  The final straw came when I caught my children playing with it as a cape.

I suddenly remembered why I don’t have tablecloths.  It’s because I have children and pets.  And because of the most important reason – I am not my MIL.  I am me.

This thought has stayed with me for the last week.  There are so many websites out there that tell you the right way and wrong way to do things.  But unless it is a law (yes – you need to use your indicators on your car!  Hello!!), then sometimes these right and wrong ways to do things are not set in stone.  It is what works for that person and may not necessarily work for you.

Authors need to remember this too.  I’ve heard authors say, “I write in the style of {insert famous author’s name}” and I have to wonder how far that author can go by making themselves write like another.  I often have to remind myself to write like ME, and I hope most days I succeed.

Just like having a spotless kitchen wouldn’t work for me (because truthfully I’d rather keep the kids asleep than wake them up clanging pots around), writing the same stuff in the same way as another author is never going to work in the long term.

As many gay people can attest to, you can’t change who you are.  You can’t pray the gay away. Or you can’t be “straight-acting” if you are really a flamboyant character.  Why not write like you want to?

The point of my story?  My newest release, The ShearingGun, has just hit the Coming Soon pages of Dreamspinner.  I'm really excited about this book.  This is ME.  This is my HOME.  But then I look at the other covers of the other releases and realise that it's very different.  I mean – sheep? Really?

But I remind myself that I am ME.  I write what I know and in the style I like.  And you know what?  Some people seem to like that.  So I hope you enjoy my story of Hank and Elliot.  

How to contact Renae:

Twitter:  @renaekkaye

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