I write historical romances in an unusual time period — 8th century China. It’s from all those costume dramas I used to watch growing up. I love the honor and the melodrama! People always say write what you love, right? But now that I’m trying to get published, there’s the other side of the scale. Is it actually marketable?
My setup isn’t that unusual. No more unusual than vampires or shape-shifters once were in romance. And romances are now being set in ancient Rome and Egypt and South America, all over the world and in all sorts of time periods. Jade Lee has a whole series set in 19th centry China.
I figure even if I wrote something “popular”, there’s always the risk of “There’s too much of that out there” or “No one’s buying X anymore.” Pick your poison.
When I was writing my first manuscript, another author told me exactly the thing I needed to hear. It’s going to be a difficult time period to sell, but if the writing is phenomenal, it could be groundbreaking. If the writing is phenomenal. So whenever I get low marks on a contest or harsh critique or editor/agent feedback on a rejection, I never dismiss it as “oh, this just wasn’t for them”. I blame my writing every time; it’s just not good enough yet. My writing is the one thing I can fix.
So I continue to write and have anyone who will read it critique me and then I revise and revise. Nothing else feels so good as when I’m writing these stories with these heros. I may never publish this particular genre of work, but heck, I have a day job. I spend money and countless hours on contests and submissions and conferences because it’s all part of the journey and I love the journey. I better, it might take a while. 😉
There are times when I think this is unsellable and I should just move on, but then I realize, I’ve hardly begun to fight. Sherrilyn Kenyon received 156 rejections one year. Who am I to give up at a mere dozen? So I’m going to keep on writing in this genre and querying my way toward my 100 rejection goal.
I know it won’t be easy, but no one I know strives for publication because it is easy. So I titled my inaugural blog post with my motto. Hopefully it will help me stay on track whenever I take a hard look at the market and wonder if there’s any place for what I write.
Here it is in a nutshell: I write swordfighting historicals set in ancient China because it’s what I love. I do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard. I’m stubborn.
What’s your stubborn muse?