My time of reflection over the past few weeks has been very advantageous. I had been writing on projects for so long that I forgot why I was writing in the first place. That reason has become increasingly clear over the past few days.
The object of being an author is to write what you love to write.
Don't get me wrong. I love all three of my main characters who are the center of my novels. My time away to assess has directed me toward working diligently to finalize one novel. (Veteran authors say there really is no novel that is finalized, just one on which the work stopped for publication. That's very true.) This novel is closest to my heart. It is from a world I know best.
My favorite is my baseball novel. It is good for me because I am writing what I love to write. I don't believe it is good from a financial standpoint. Sports fiction is not a big seller these days. Most literary agents who list sports as a category they represent add that they represent nonfiction sports. It's easy to understand why. Nonfiction relates to a particular event or person, and that increases the potential profitability of that novel. Which is a sports fan most likely to buy, a book about Aaron Rodgers or one about a fictional character? Aaron is going to win that battle every time.
So why am I focused on a nonfiction sports novel? I know this world so well. To my followers from my old hometown of The Dalles, Oregon, here's the basic makeup of my protagonist: He is part Doug Sawyer, part Jim Willis, but the biggest part is just the creation of this fiction writer. There is no player I know of from The Dalles or anywhere else who is an exact copy of this protagonist. If I can't sell this project to an agent and publishing house, I will self-publish in time for next baseball season. That is set in stone.
I don't want to discount my interest in another novel I am working on. The baseball novel is so close to me that it has a special place in my hierarchy. The other novel I have in the finished (for now) stage is vastly different, and so is the subject matter. It touches on things that are relevant today, like job loss, broken relationships, broken dreams and chances to revive treasured hopes. I hear all this junk about how strong our economy is these days, but the anecdotal evidence says otherwise. Many careers, and not just those in journalism, are being wounded by job cuts. I hear friends who work in many different industries say that. The other thing I love about this novel is that my main character can be a jerk. It is that way in the first paragraph. I probably don't help myself by writing in a way that might put some people off. (My first paragraph is rather prickly, and intentionally so. I want a main character with flaws, someone who is real and not a caricature of what a protagonist should be. I am willing to take that chance because it begins a beautiful character arc.)
Again, creating a character with rough edges is what I like. It's like real life, and I try to make my novels mirror real life.
I will go about the business of writing while embracing the love of the game. I move forward with that as my foundation.