Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mission Statement

I attempted to write my first mission statement in 2013. 2013 was a huge year for me. I signed with my first agent and signed a contract with an imprint of Harlequin. Writing a mission statement didn't work out. I had no idea to put in it. I think I finally scribbled something down but knew that it didn't matter. There was a reason for that. In the midst of agency offers and contracts, something  more important got overlooked.

I told my CP, Kelly Hashway, that I loved writing books like Peace because I dropped out of law school at 22, and these kind of books (which I now know as romantic suspense) because it felt like it combined both sides of my personality. The more whimsical side, free of anxiety, that only comes out on paper, and the girl who sees the unfairness and danger in the world to the point she's often mislabeled as a pessimist. She told me it probably did. The day went on. Contracts got signed and the conversation was forgotten.

Later that year, Sarah Nego was trying to help me market, and she asked me what was the one element that was the same across all my writing. I had no clue. I had no idea what string could tie my Marlowe fun beach reads to a gritty YA about racism and injustice. After I thought about it, I said "everything happens for a reason." Both Marlowe Girls hint at this, though it's not as much of a punch and those books have a lot of humor. And my Iraq war books attempt to make sense out of something as senseless as war. The characters struggle with their backgrounds and who they are trying to fit into this little community, and in the end, have no regrets because things happen for a reason.

Writing the mission statement was much easier this time, because now I know who I am as a writer.

To use my background in law and government, education and life to bring about stories of life and love complicated by inequities and dangers while showing a theme compatible with my values. For example, “Everything happens for a reason.” To have every story be an improvement in craft. To be a supportive member of the writing community by providing writers with helpful feedback and techniques to make writing and/or marketing easier. To create a well received body of work that opens eyes and offers hope while innovating the art of storytelling and depth of English. To push and expand my creativity by experimenting with form and allowing myself to write whatever my heart desires.

This says some important things: "Well received body of work," notice it doesn't say "To have lots of readers." I'd rather have loyal fans who love my stories so much that they're standing in line for the next one than have a readership of thousands who might be disappointed in my next book.

And this goes hand in hand with something else, "While showing a theme compatible with my values." I write Doris Day romance in a 50 Shades of Gray world. I'm aware of that, and I'm okay with that. This means I have to write an amazing book with something to offer besides romance to have a huge readership. And that's okay. One day I will, until then well received clean romance is good enough for me. Selling out for money or fame wouldn't be good enough for me.


  1. Great mission statement, Beth. You really know who you are as a writer and that's wonderful.

  2. Gosh, that is such a strong statement. Good for you for knowing who you are as a writer. I love that! I'm still evolving. Hoping to figure it out soon. But you have a fabulous CP and great writer friends that I'm sure helped you along the way. So important. :)

  3. I like it. It's very mature and deep. It's so important to believe in what you do and not get sidetracked looking for fame and money. Finding your joy is much more important. Good for you!

  4. I believe that! Everything happens for a reason. Marvelous. BTW, I love the little stars falling from your cursor! Do you have a writing update this month?

  5. Good mission statement. It's always better to stay true to who you are as a writer than to sell out.

  6. That's some great clarity! I love the Doris Day in a Fifty Shades world. My books aren't exactly clean, but I like to think when I meet my maker, He won't want to slap me.

  7. Love your mission statement. Got me thinking... not sure I could sum up my writing ambitions as well as you have done.