I am thrilled to share with you this guest post from author Tam May. I don’t know her personally, but I have followed her for a while and in my eyes, she is the perfect example of authors who collaborate, which as you know is a big deal for me. I love people who share their time, knowledge and expertise with each other and believe strongly that this is the only way to have meaningful success. So here is what she has to say and I wish her all the best with her book 🙂
“Don’t you ever dare to make concessions. Then one walks down, down, down, down.” – Gertrude Stein
While Gertrude Stein was never one of my favorite writers (she believed intelligence and talent naturally belonged to men and not women), I read the above quote when I was doing undergraduate work in English. Stein gave this advice to many young writers (among them, Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) and painters (like Pablo Picasso and Pavel Tchelitchew http://gaypariscea.blogspot.com/2008/09/gertrude-stein-writer-and-her-muse.html) she supported and mentored. As a writer still experimenting with my writing and with no real sense of creating a writing career, I didn’t understand at the time the idea of “concessions”. Only recently, I came to appreciate Stein’s words.
A dictionary definition of the word concession defined it as giving in. The idea of making concessions in writing is different for different writers. It can mean writing articles when you really want to be writing fiction, writing in a genre that doesn’t stir your passion but pays the bills, or not writing at all because fear gets in the way. Of course, most writers have to make concessions just as much as most people in order to live and prepare for the future. But each writer judges where their personal limit stands so that, as Stein implies, he or she doesn’t walk down, down, down, down, if not financially, then psychologically.
For me, the limit came with my style and voice. I’ve battled with who I am as a writer, knowing that my natural writing voice and style are a little unusual and quirky. I was drawn to poetic prose and to psychological fiction that scrutinized character motivation, behavior, and make-up so they didn’t always come out complete and attractive. But I was also very much aware that such fiction wasn’t going to bring me many accolades or success as the trends define it.
So I experimented with genre fiction. In 2013, I wrote the first book of a historical mystery series for National Novel Writing Month and then outlined scene-by-scene the second and third books for the series. The book was fun to write and I loved doing all the historical research. But ultimately, I went back to psychological fiction because I felt the series was burying my real passion for character exploration and lyrical prose. For me, writing the series was where I drew the line for my concessions.
I’ve recently been asked what advice I have for new writers. My best advice is to find your natural writing voice and style and pursue it, even if it isn’t part of the trends or it doesn’t take you to the bestseller list. Don’t make concessions.
Gnarled Bones and Other Stories explores five tales of loss, fear, and guilt where strange and spooky events impact people’s lives in ways that are profound and unchangeable.
In “Mother of Mischief”, a newly divorced woman goes back to school to begin a new chapter of her life only to find herself circling back to where she started. In “Bracelets”, childhood nostalgia mingles with brutal fear during a circus outing for a mailroom secretary and her friends. In “A First Saturday Outing”, a lonely woman ventures out of her isolated apartment one quiet Saturday afternoon to an art exhibit that leaves an eerie impression on her psyche*. In “Broken Bows”, a middle-aged violinist reveals the mystery behind his declining artistic powers to a lonely woman on a train. And the title story, “Gnarled Bones”, paints a portrait of the complex bond between an orphaned sister and brother through journal entries and first-person narrative. For these characters, the past leaves its shadow on the present and future.
Gnarled Bones and Other Stories is available now in paperback and ebook on Amazon https://www.amzn.com/dp/B01MS7P9EM/
* This story was featured on Whimsy Gardener’s Storytime With Whimsey and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW9mgw4qhuA.
About The Author
Tam May was born in Israel but grew up in America. She earned her college degree in English before returning to the States. She also has a Master’s degree in English and worked as an English college instructor and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher before she became a full-time writer. She started writing when she was 14 and writing became her voice. She writes psychological fiction that explores emotional realities informed by past experiences, dreams, feelings, fantasies, nightmares, imagination, and self-analysis.
She is currently working on a novella series called the Waxwood Series, set in a Northern California resort town. The series explores the crumbling relationships among the wealthy San Francisco Alderdice family. In Book 1, The Order of Actaeon, the Alderdice son and heir falls into the hands of a charismatic older man obsessed with power and leadership during a summer vacation in the resort town of Waxwood. The second book, The Claustrophobic Heart, brings in Gena Flax, a young woman who must cope with the mental deterioration of her aunt during their summer stay at Waxwood. In the last book of the series, Dandelion Children, Daisy, the daughter of the Alderdice family is drawn into the disturbed life of the man who ruined her brother during one rainy summer in Waxwood.
She is also working on another book titled House of Masks about a woman who, mourning the death of her father, breaks free of isolation and loneliness when she is drawn into the lives of her two neighbors, one eccentric and one embittered. For more information, feel free to check out her website at www.tammayauthor.com.
She currently lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and watching classic films.