Last month, a girlfriend dropped off a book for me to read during my travels--Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining by Judy Sheindlin as in Judge Judy Sheindlin. Fantastic title for her book of nonfiction! I'm not a huge Judge Judy fan, but when I've caught her show, I've laughed at her astute observations and raised an eyebrow at her sharp tongue that often spews out acidic comments at the people who walk into her court room. Can we say reality check? It's tough to get one over on Judge Judy, the epitome of reality, rules, and laws. I think Judge Judy is awesome and the book is on my stack of books to read this summer.
Can we imagine Judge Judy writing a romance novel or a YA novel? Hard to imagine, right? Well, Judy Sheindlin is a mother of five. If anyone knows the heart and mind of a child, teenager and young adult, it would be her. In her acknowledgment page she writes, "My husband, Jerry, is the excitement in my life and my friend. I love him so much, I married him twice." That's romantic, right? Beautiful. Don't judge a book by its cover...
Do you worry that you write in too many genres and won't be taken seriously in any genre because you're scattered here and there? There are many facets to each of us and it's no surprise to me that authors write in many genres. Some writers and authors KNOW where they belong and are headed; they remain in one specific genre all their writing life. Good for them! Some kids know they'll be a dentist or a lawyer when they grow up and voila, it comes to pass. Some kids like me, however, were/are creative. I didn't like being in a box, being labeled or being put into a box. I still don't. It takes all kinds...
I've written an historical novel, A Decent Woman, that deals with women's issues in 1900 Puerto Rico mixed with murder, Santeria, spiritism, death and lies. My second novel, Finding Gracia, which I'm writing now, falls into the historical genre, as well. The second book is a coming of age, love story mixed with history, mystery, mysticism and a little of the paranormal. I have a murder mystery series in mind and I've dipped my toes in YA fiction. I also write poetry, lots of poetry with symbolism, fantasy and the metaphysical. That's a lot of genres, right? Sometimes, it's difficult to stick to ONE genre as we write and I would venture to say that most authors and writers have dabbled in other genres or write with a nom de plume.
However, there is one common denominator in my books and ideas that you may have picked up on - the mystery of the unknown and the metaphysical. Why? I'll tell you why.
Like Judge Judy must be described, I've been described by friends and family as a realist. A no-nonsense woman who asks the hard questions. If you ask me a question and want the truth, ask me, I'll tell you what I think. If you don't want to truth, I won't bring it up. I've worked as a counselor, a refugee case worker, a residential treatment center staff member for kids 13-21, and up until two years ago, I worked as a bilingual family support worker in the DC area. My main resume might tell you that I'm an advocate for children and women, that I'm socially conscious, liberal, compassionate, empathic, and that I must be tough and thick-skinned. You'd be right, but never as tough as Judge Judy!
The other sides to me are my spiritual, religious, and mystical sides. My other resume shows that I've worked in the piscines, the baths of the Sanctuary of Notre Dame de Lourdes in Lourdes, France for over 13 years. I've led pilgrimages to the Sanctuaire and it is my favorite place in the world. I'm also a Reiki Master/practitioner, trained in Belgium and in the UK. Surprised? I joke that my realism comes from my New England roots and my spiritual and mystical side comes from my Puerto Rican roots. True enough and my family is Catholic on both sides. Plenty of mysticism in the Catholic Church and in Puerto Rico.
I had a Reiki practice in Belgium and today, I work on family and friends when I'm asked. Next week, I'm interviewing for a freelance job as a Reiki practitioner for a hair salon/spa in my area. Last year, I wrote a blog called Practical Spirituality 365 where I wrote a blog a day about spiritual and religious issues. So you see, it's not far-fetched for me to write with these themes in mind, they resonate with me. I've lived them.
My life experiences prepared me to write the books I write. As I look back, my life experiences were my education, my tuition. The 'good' and 'bad' experiences have made me who I am today and they've made me the writer I am. No one can tell my story but me.
My advice to you? Just write. Write what you know and are passionate about. Don't get bogged down with genres and worrying about which 'box' you fit in as you write. Just get the words down and worry about that later!
Peace and love,