Follow Your Weirdness

by Christa Allan 

I’m in the process of digesting PLATFORM: Get
Noticed in a Busy World
by Michael
. And, believe me when I say that anyone who stands 4’11” 
(um, that would be me) absolutely needs a platform. 

Of course, raising me to be eye-level with the majority of
the universe is not what Mike means. He defines platform as “the means by
which you connect with your existing and potential fans. 

I summoned my creative muses, most of whom listen to me
about as much as my children, so we could ponder this idea of connectedness. In
a rare display of sympathy, they led me to a quote by Annie Dillard that
I’d underlined ages ago. Her suggestion for new writers is (from the
introduction of In Fact: The
Best of Creative Nonfiction
 by Lee Gutkind. . .just to
prove I didn’t make this up:) “Follow your own weirdness.” 

 Fortunately for me, that’s a short trip.
I realize that, to
some–okay, maybe to many–I’m slightly off center. But, I clearly don’t want
to stand on the stage of weirdness. Or, in any way, weirdly connect with my
present and future fans.
The entirely unexpected
weird path I am following, though, is one that leads me to write
“not-your-usual Christian fiction.”  My first three novels deal with
alcoholism, homosexuality, and race.  When you’re the
once divorced, twice married, recovering alcoholic wife of a Jewish husband,
mother of twins (one of the two has Down’s Syndrome) plus three other children,
a daughter whose husband is black (and she’s not), and sister of a gay
brother…well, just where are you going to go with that?
Here’s the exciting part for us as writers: it’s when we
write about what we think makes us different that readers most connect with us. 
Few people want to go public with their
weirdness because, let’s face it, it’s hard to go back in once you’ve been
outed. We’re experts at concealing our insecurities, doubts, fears, yearnings,
regrets, resentments…But, just because others can’t see them doesn’t mean they
aren’t there.
As writers, I believe we have to expose
ourselves (not in a Bourbon Street stripper way, and not even in a navel-gazing
way), but in a way that acknowledges our own “weirdnesses.” Those places where
we say to ourselves, “If I say this out loud, I will be placed on a lifetime
regiment of drug therapy.” 
You can’t speak it, but your characters can.
And when they do, there will be readers out there nodding, saying to
themselves, “I didn’t know anyone else felt this or thought this or said this.”
And that, my friend, is a connection.
Where will your weirdness take you?

1841. Ever since her parents died of yellow fever when she was a child, Charotte LeClerc has lived with her grandparents, who rarely speak of their son and his wife. They are on the verge of negotiating a marriage contract with a suitor, a man Charlotte loathes, when they discover that she enjoys the company of Gabriel Girod, a young Creole man. Charlotte’s future hangs in the balance as her grandparents consider whether to stop keeping secrets and reveal the truth that they’ve known since before her birth — a truth that will make the difference between a life of obligation and a life of choice for Charlotte.