The Discomfort Zone.
I love the title for this blog chain. (Kudos to Victor Travison for the brilliant suggestion!) To me, it expresses perfectly the “edge” that all writers need to balance on to be really good. Writing is just like rock climbing or water skiing – you can't be satisfied with good enough. A rock climber who learns to scale the glacial deposit in his backyard isn't going to stop there: he'll head for the Grand Canyon next. A water skiier who learns to cut wake isn't going to stop: she'll grab a single ski and try that.
Writers are the same way – or at least we should be. Just like in sports, we need to push ourselves. Try something new. Dare the unknown.
And, like all new things, it's a little scary. A little uncomfortable. It's the Discomfort Zone.
I've been labeled as an adrenaline junkie, a risk-taker, and a crazy fool (in no particular order). I like risk. I like the element of fear, the uncertainty of the unknown, the tingle of adrenaline. I'm also a sucker for punishment. The result? I spend a heck of a lot of time in the Discomfort Zone. :)
Every time I get comfortable with writing one genre, or one style, or one character, I want to try something new. My launch pad for writing usually is historical with a slight literary slant: from there I ricochet off in all directions. A few of my “projects” are:
The Hanging Tree – historical/mystery. I wrote this two years ago and at the time it felt quite brave to combine a Western and a mystery. Now it's the norm... but it was my first excursion into the DZ.
SS-5 – historical/suspense. This is probably my single biggest jaunt into the DZ. It was my first suspense novel. The suspense wasn't scary – but writing the main character was! (for Myers-Brigg people, he was an ESTP and I am an INFJ. Scary.)
A Forbidden Homeland – fantasy/thriller. Almost-completed-but-not-quite, this second 2009 NaNo novel jumped WAY out of my comfort zone! First stab at fantasy (a genre I swore I'd never write – haha) and also first stab at thriller. It's a dark novel about a people driven to extinction, sheltering in the shadows of the City of their oppressors. And it's about the man who leads the final fight for freedom... and the woman of the enemy who is his only ally and most dangerous enemy. Oh yeah. Who says the Discomfort Zone isn't fun!
Stranger's Eyes – thriller. This is my latest project, and it's comparable to wing-walking for me. Not only is the novel told only from a male POV, but it's straight thriller, and it's contemporary. Rob is an ordinary guy; nine-to-five job, football on the weekends. The center of his life is his young wife, Kay. But when his wife appears to lose her mind and assassins are breaking down their door, Rob has to become anything but ordinary in a race to stop a black op takeover. At stake is the future of the USA – and Kay's life.
And if that isn't enough to prove I've won my Crazy Writer badge, I'm also dibbling with an as-yet-untitled novel, which is sort of a parody/satire of fairy tales and classic detective stories. Leonie is a maid-of-waiting in the castle of King Percival. Ordinary serving girl by day, at night she writes the murder mystery novels that are sweeping the kingdom. No one knows who writes them – but when the Prince hosts a ball and one of the guests turns up floating in the goldfish pond, the author is top on the kingdom's wanted list – and Leonie's little hobby turns quite literally into a matter of life and death. This one is incredibly fun to write and it's so different from anything I've ever written – it's been a blast. Once again proof that being in Discomfort can be fun. :)
And now I've run out of time and space and therefore shall stop. Your turn – tell me about your excursions into the Discomfort Zone! When you're done, don't forget to check out the other posts in this blog chain!
Linda Yezak -- July 9
Lynn Mosher -- July 10
Nona King -- July 11
Victor Travison -- July 14
Janalyn Voigt -- July 15
Adam Collings -- July 17
Liberty Speidel -- July 19
Chris Solaas -- July 27
Suzanne Hartmann -- July 30