I was not planning to write a post today, but when I saw the news about Jackie Collins on Twitter…I was heartbroken. You see, I would not write the way that I do if it were not for her. Yeas ago, I read an interview with her, about not knowing how her book ends until she is finished writing it. I realized that I did not have to write an outline, or even know how a piece is going to end to create it.
Jackie Collins was serious about her craft. People always categorized her novels as trashy. My mother had a copy of Chances which was recommended to her by a friend, and I skimmed it like it was my job. My mom did not finish it, but the bits of it that I skimmed stayed with me and influenced my earliest writing endeavors. When I was younger, I always wanted to write stories with glamorous backgrounds and lots of romance and sex…I hung onto to the lots of romance and sex, and Paris is pretty glamorous as a backdrop for many of my stories (and New York!). But they are included because I love them, not for their glamour.
Jackie took on her critics, she was passionate about the stories that she wrote. I remember her with her big hair and leopard skin clothing in interviews–the epitome of glamour herself–being so animated with a glint in her eye as she talked about her newest novel. She never stopped. I was delighted to follow her Twitter account, because her enthusiasm and zest for life was so evident in it.
My interpretation of her spirit and dedication to the craft stayed with me. When I first started writing, I mimicked the authors I first saw around me (i.e. Jackie Collins!). The more I studied writing in school, the more I veered off onto my own ideas. My form is still evolving. I just wrote a story, and experimented with something I had never experimented with before. When I gave it to my editor, I was not sure what they were going to think. I only knew I was passionate about what I had created.
They loved it.
It is so important to write what you love, and not to overthink it. There is so much going on with this industry right now, with this genre in particular. When I was on a publishers’ panel last month, the big thing that I kept telling the audience was to write what they want to write. That is what is going to sell. Not some made-to-order confection that is what you think is going to be successful. It might be sweet, but is it for you?
Jackie Collins was one of my earliest influences as a writer, and her joie de vivre and love of the craft will always stay with me. If you imagine me writing, it is always with joy, with love and reference for genres that people like to smirk about.
It is my joy, and I am thankful for writers like Jackie Collins who helped me embrace it.
Jackie Collins holding Power Trip via wikipedia