Yesterday was a big day at my church. Our pastor was raised to the second degree of the ministry (which is not half as mystical as it sounds – it’s a church government thing). As part of the service there was a lot of talk about being “called” to the ministry. And as I sat there watching Pastor Ryan affirm that he was called, I thought about my own calling.
I was “called” to be a writer. That’s all there is to it. It’s the only thing I have ever really wanted to do since I was a kid. Granted, there have been a great many years between here and there where I have somehow convinced myself that I should actually do something else. But no, it always comes back to writing. It has been my purpose, my entertainment, my escape, my solace.
But I think there’s more to it than that.
I was having a conversation with my cousin Phyllis, who works in the marketing department for Tor Books and whom I will be interviewing later this week, about writing. She mentioned that YA (Young Adult) is really hot right now and suggested I write a YA novel. I thought about it … and I had to admit that it’s just not my genre.
My calling as a writer is pretty specific. I have a feeling most writers might agree with this. As long as I can remember, no matter what I write, it always turns into a romance novel. Even my sci-fi stories, and there are plenty, lean heavily towards romance. It’s what runs through my veins. It’s what rattles around my brain. I’m not just a writer, I’m a Romance writer (capital R!).
And you know, it goes further than that even.
I’ve always loved history. Ever since studying the explorers in fifth grade. There are some fantastic stories in history! It wasn’t until the end of my high school career, though, that I began to realize that, hey, this stuff actually happened to people! There have been countless lives lived before mine in a style that I would find unrecognizable. People have lived and loved, triumphed and failed, for millennia before I showed up on the scene. The possibilities of things that have already happened are endless.
Now, one might attribute this to me being an old soul who has been reincarnated so many times that I’ve lived through all of these times. My imaginative side really likes that explanation. My practical side, however, wonders if this love of history is a deep-seated form of coping with my disappointment in the modern world. There are a lot of things we just don’t have right in the modern world, as fancy as we are. People are disconnected, face-to-face interaction has been replaced by sci-fi-like electronic communication, and the media loves to bully people. There are days when I would rather not have any form of communication beyond five miles of my home, like people did in the Middle Ages, than to know as much as I know about the world.
Funny, but my sci-fi series deals with a group of interplanetary colonists who find themselves suddenly cut off from the rest of the universe and who have to start a new civilization from scratch. Sort of like history. I haven’t actually strayed that far off track.
Now I will qualify all this by saying that I have ONE contemporary romance novel in rumination that might see the light of day at some point. Ah, but that’s still Romance. It’s still within the calling. But that’s my point. As writers, I feel like we come with an inborn sense of what kind of novels we want to write. And as the saying goes, you should write the books you want to read.
So writing Historical Romance – specifically – is my calling. It runs deep. I can’t escape it. Some people I know feel a calling to be a teacher or a mother. Some people haven’t really felt called to do anything. But for me it’s writing Historical Romance all the way. It’s what I will write with every cell of my being and what I will be muttering when I’m old and crinkled and have lost my mind and the ability to distinguish between reality and my stories. I’m looking forward to that, actually.
So what is your calling? How did you know when the moment came?