So, okay, we know I’m terrible at keeping this blog up to date. I keep making promises and utterly failing, but I’m always hopeful. Maybe I actually write something every Monday.
So what’s been happening to me while the world has been falling apart (at this point I will keep away from politics – just know I’m as bleeding-heart liberal bordering on anarchist that you can imagine)? Anyway, Covid hit and I’m been locked in the house with my gorgeous husband of 45 years with nowhere to go. Perfect time to write a book, right?
Nope. I may have baked everything under the sun, but I did not want to write, even though I had a book that was two-thirds done. You know all those rules about writing? Apply the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair. Just sit at the typewriter and open a vein. Write whether you feel like it or not.
Uh, that can be dangerous. Because I rewrote the 2/3 of a book that I had, and finally got to the love scene, and it took me days to get them in bed. And unlike some of my prissier sisters, I love to write sex. It’s central to my adult love stories – if characters have sex I want to hear about it. It changes everything in a story, it’s immensely important, and yet I couldn’t make my couple do it. And when they finally did, I was left feeling … meh. Mind you, it was good sex. I just didn’t care.
I spent the next month or so finishing the book, working so slowly I was afraid I’d lost my mojo. I really got worried when I wrote the end – I did at at a rate of 500 words a day. Now when I finish a book I zoom through it, because everything’s coming together and the action is high and I usually write at least 10,000 words straight (Which is about 4-5 hours work if the words are coming). So, okay, my career was over, the book I wanted to get back to was going to suck and I’d hate it and if this miserable experience was my writing life from now on then I was going to say fuck it and quit.
Fortunately I have people like Crusie and Lynda Ward to talk me down. Plus my therapist. So I put the wretched finished mss. to one side for a couple of weeks, and read the next thing I was going to work on. It was clumsy, it was awkward. But it was riveting.
So I went back to my hated mss. and realized I simple had to throw out that last third of the book (Oh, the humanity!) I did. Went back to before they had sex and changed it completely and then everything began to fall into place. I have no idea how that happened – in the past when I’ve gone in the wrong direction I catch it in a chapter or two. I just didn’t listen to myself this time. Didn’t listen to the girls in the basement (speaking of which, isn’t Barbara O’Neal doing splendidly nowadays? I love it when a friend hits the big time.)
So now I’m almost done, and it works, thank God. No strange directions and characters doing things that make sense but aren’t right. Taking a look at the flawed book, it could have been a perfectly decent book. I ticked all the boxes (not literally) with motivation, character development, plot coming to a big finale, bad guys conquered. It just wasn’t my book. You’d think after all these years I’d trust my instincts, but my instincts were way off.
Now I just need one of the 10,000 days and it’ll be done. And I just gotta hope I learned my lesson.
I spent part of the quarantine rereading old favorites, like Mine Til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas, and When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, and Cotillion by Georgette Heyer (which I love as an adult but didn’t care for as a young ‘un).
Did any of you revisit beloved old favorites? There’s such a comfort in them. If you wanted to reread something, what would you pick? (I need some new keepers to discover).
See you next Monday. I swear!