Saturday, March 9, 2013
Guest Blogger: Colby Marshall
Let’s welcome Colby Marshall, our guest blogger of the day!
Hi, my name is Colby Marshall, and I am a workaholic.
*listens for chorus of, “Hi, Colby!”*
Yep, it’s sad. The reality: I haven’t always been a workaholic. I used to be a hobby-holic. I had so many activities I loved doing, from ballroom dance to live theatre to writing, but somewhere along the line, I have slowly but ever-so-surely turned every single hobby of mine into a job. I didn’t mean to do it. I like to relax! In fact, I like it so much that I wanted to make every day of my life relaxing by doing something I loved, thereby ensuring I would never have an activity I did that I would be able to simply relax doing.
As a writer and as someone who tells stories for a living, I can say with all honesty that the first pieces of fiction I ever wrote were not very good. Sure, it had a lot to do with the fact that I was inexperienced and had a lot to learn as far as what the industry expects, what audiences want, and how to edit my own work after a first draft to make it something another human being could understand. However, the real reason those first works weren’t going anywhere was because I hadn’t yet let my personal life—and my hobbies—become my work yet. Or rather, I hadn’t yet let all of my hobbies become work and tie together to become work.
My mother put me into dance classes at age two. At age five, I was competing on stage at ballet and jazz competitions. By age twelve, I’d seen Dirty Dancing and decided to shift the focus of my dance career to ballroom dance. After college, I decided to make a career out of dance through teaching and choreographing theatre, wedding dances, dance teams, and pretty much anyone else who wanted to pay me to teach them a dance. (Oh, dear—that sounds far dirtier than it is. Get your minds out of the gutter, will you?)
What I hadn’t yet done? Mixed dance with writing. You see, when I wrote my first novels, they ran the gamut as far as genre was concerned from women’s fiction to literary fiction. I knew my concepts always involved some element of mystery or crime, but I wanted so badly to write something beautiful and poetic that I ignored something I would later realize was where my strength lay: action.
The more I wrote, the more consistent the feedback was: my readers enjoyed action scenes the most, because they said I described them in such detail they could imagine them perfectly. That’s when I realized my writing life wasn’t all too different from my dance life. Just like I had switched from classic ballet to the “sordid” rhythms of Latin ballroom, it was time for me to stop focusing on the elegant and subtle and instead, to do what I knew best: putting on shows. I switched to the action-packed, fast-paced world of thriller writing, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve gotten to write many more of those action sequences my readers said they could imagine so well, using my knowledge of choreography to choreograph those scenes for audiences on the page. I took that one step further, and looked at my writing in the proverbial dance mirror to better describe characters, plot-lines, and adjust everything I wrote to the staccato, snappy pulse of the thriller beat. I found out that just like my ballroom heels, the genre fit much better on my feet than pointe shoes ever would.
Do your hobbies influence your day to day career? How so? Would you want to make a hobby into a career?
BIO: Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic. In addition to her 9,502 regular jobs, she is also a contributing columnist for M Food and Culture magazine and is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer as well as sometimes indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress. She lives in
with her family, two mutts,
and an array of cats that, if she were a bit older, would qualify her
immediately for crazy cat lady status. Her debut thriller, Chain
of Command is about a reporter who discovers the
simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President may have been a
plot to rocket the very first woman—the Speaker of the House—into the
presidency. Chain of Command is now available, and the
second book in her McKenzie McClendon series, The Trade, is due for
publication by Stairway Press in June 2013. Georgia
Watch the official book trailer for Chain of Command here: http://tinyurl.com/auye6bb. You can learn more about Colby and her books at www.colbymarshall.com