Sometimes I think I’m pretty complacent regarding my writing. I write women’s fiction. My characters are strong women facing new challenges in their lives. They must confront their problems in order to grow in to even stronger women. They encounter good men who help them in their journeys, but the men do not overwhelm the heroines. I believe my stories are exciting and full of emotion and conflict. But can I do more? Am I destined to write only women’s fiction? I hope not. I know I am capable of producing much more; therefore I’m writing a contemporary cowboy short story.
Big deal, you say? It is a big deal. I am a city girl. I like windjamming, books, puzzles, restaurants, plays, and movies. I’m not thrilled with the lone prairie, snakes, rodents, and extreme heat. What do I know about cattle, ranching, or the day-to-day operations of a big spread? I know absolutely nothing about all that. But I do know about the cowboy mystique, the allure of the old west, and I have contacts. It all boils down to needing to challenge myself.
It is much easier to write what I know, but at some point I’m concerned my work will get stale, routine, and boring. By taking on this challenge, I will force myself to research the wildfires that devastated the Texas Panhandle in 2006, and build a story around the survival of ranchers in the face of overwhelming odds. I will learn the lingo and dialect associate with ranching. I will build my characters around the cowboy heritage. The story will be written. My critique partners will guide me in making the work the best it can be. I will submit the story.
What if it is not accepted? I will be disappointed, but I will learn from the experience. Am I struggling with writing Wild Fire? Yes, but isn’t that the point? Why shouldn’t I experiment with new genres? How will I, or for that matter, how will any writer know how far we can go unless we try? Truth is we only fail when we fail to stretch our talents. I’m enjoying this experience and the opportunity move beyond the comfortable. Who knows, I might try a children’s story next.