Just when I though I had things reasonably figured out and I knew where I was going with my wriitng, I’m confused again, and totally undecided about what to do next. I had a day off wriitng yesterday, as I’d been neglecting my husband, we hadn’t had any decent “couple time” for ages, so we took a day off togther and went to the Barkway markets.
Had a wonderful day, the best possible spring weather, sunny but not too hot; a drive through beautiful rolling Hertfordshire countryside that looked just like my picture postcard imaginings of what the English countryside should look like before I came to this country; a fabulous huge market with all sorts of bric a brac and craft items for sale, in the grounds of the medieval manor house; and the church was open so we could see the old stone carvings. As a Australian of British ancestry, I always had a hunger for that sense of a history that was my history. The oldest buildings I’d ever been in there dated to about the 1840’s. There are awesome aboriginal sites that date back as far as 40,000 years, maybe even further, the longest continuous culture on the planet, but I always had the sense of being on stolen ground. The line of continuity had been broken, and rather than giving a sense of belonging or security, it gave a feeling of wrongness and guilt. Not so here in England. It’s an amazing experience to stand in a 14th century church and know that this is my history, my heritage. (it’s not just in the UK, oddly enough I had the same feeling in a tiny medieval French village church, and a Tunisian hill-fort). I love Australia, but I don’t feel the same sense of belonging there.
Anyway, that’s a sidetrack and not what I wanted to write about. I need to work out what I should be writing. The plan was- have the day off the story yesterday, and spend at least four hours writing story words today. I’m doing a lot of words that aren’t story words, but wriitng about writing, or wriitng around the story, character building, plotting, but not writing story. My strong feeling and part of my experiment in trying out different ways of writing was that I shouldn’t spend too much time pre-writing on this one, but just write, and sort out the problems in the edit. So today was the “write as many story words as I can before I have to go do the duty visit to my mother in law this evening” day. Except now I’ve got myself confused, and I don’t know which story I should be writing on.
My critique buddy Melissa (who has the most fabulous story plotted out and in progress, I so want to read it!) and I were wondering about which series our writing was the best fit with. I love Presents/Modern Romance, but I only started targeting that line because of the Instant Seduction competition. I had been having doubts about whther that was the best line for me to aim for, that maybe the sort of stories and the sort of heroes I like best weren’t a good match with Presents. Now there’s a Desire contest, as an additional distraction /possibility. (I’ve got this image of us in a dressing room, with an armful of lovely frocks, trying on first one, then the other. “That’s gorgeous, but I liked this one too, and maybe it you tried that one again with this belt, what do you think?”)
I’m still not totally clear on the differences between this line and Presents, even after listening to the thirty minute editor podcast and reading the guidelines over at e-Harlequin. I need to read some recent release books from the series- I ordered half a dozen on ebay last night (thank goodness for that £10 PayPal voucher they sent me!). They still want an Alpha hero, though possibly he can be a little softer than the Presents hero often is; and I get the idea that more external conflict is okay, as long as the focus is still firmly on the developing relationship. I’m now wondering if James and Cassie’s story, the marriage of convenience story I plotted out then put aside as having too much external conflict for Presents, would be a viable Desire story. How can I know without wriitng the thing? Now I am feeling so torn! James and Cassie’s story is back in my head, with scenes playing out like mini-movies.
This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen. My big fear is that unless I commit to completing a story, I will just jump from idea to idea to idea and never get anything completed. Sure, it would be fun, I’d only ever have to write what I felt like writing, but it sort of knocks on the head any chance of ever getting published. I’m on a sew saw ride, with James and Cassie one end, and Nick and Kate on the other, and me sliding helplessly around in the middle, going to whichever end carries the most weight for me at the time.
But maybe it’s okay, maybe this is just the way I write. I asked to be shown the way of writing that worked for me, that was most natural to me. Maybe it is just this. Have an idea for characters and a situation and what might happen to get them to their Happy Ever After, then put them to one side to work on another story. Meanwhile, the original story is simmering away on the backburner, until it’s done enough to be ready to use. I’m not sure if I will ever finish anything this way and I’m especially doubtful of how it would work if I’m wriitng to a deadline, where I just have to focus on the story that’s due, no matter what else is demanding to be written. On the other hand, I shouldn’t ask for guidance on my personal wriitng style, if I’m not willing to at least give what comes up a try!
I need to trust that if I find and follow my natural process, I’ll be more productive that way than if I try to force myself into a way that I think I should work. Great article I found yesterday about following one’s own wriitng method (though I must admit she is not advocating jumping from story to story!)- Writing without a net .
So it looks like it’s back to James and Cassie’s story again. I’m going to take a chance here. After all, the worst thing that can happen is I delay getting eventually published by a few months if this is a wrong turning, and I still will have learned something about what works for me and what is right for me in the journey.