Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Back- and procrastinating again (surprise surprise!) October 10, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 7:14 am
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I’m back from a fab but too short trip to Australia. Both wonderful and strangely disconcerting seeing family again (ten years older) and revisiting all the old places. Odd staying in my parents home, being a child again. My very English husband surprised me by decing he seriously wants to emigrate.

My body clock is taking a while to recover. I fell asleep exhausted at 9pm last night, only to wake at 1am, ping, wide awake. I lay in the dark trying to get back to sleep for hours, but no luck. My mind is racing with ideas, both writing and non-writing. Too many to be practical, as always. I have that paralysis of wanting to do five things at once, and as I can’t, I spin my wheels and do nothing while I plan. Great way to procrastinate while feeling like I am actually doing something!


Non- writing ideas-

  • the  lagenlook style travel wardrobe I designed and made myself worked so well I’m wondering if I can make a little business making and selling a small range of clothes for lusciously curvy women like me who can’t find anything suitable in the shops. That kept my brain busy for a few hours
  • to fund this- I’m considering selling all the collectable books in my Amazon shop (and all the ones that I haven’t got around to relisting) off on ebay
  • once my elderly mother-in-law doesn’t need us nearby anymore, dh and I may well move back to Australia. So hours of time-wasting fun there looking at property prices and job options and discovering how hard or easy it would be to get permanent residency for English dh.

Writing ideas (yes, there are some!)-

  • rewrite Luk and Emma’s story, using the new ideas I had just before I went away on overcoming the problems of the passivity of the heroine, and the almost too-stupid-to-live plot requirement I was forcing on them. I wrote some more notes on this on the flight over, and think it will work. Luk’s intrusion into her life introduces her to a new world, where she suddenly discovers her power as an attractive woman and is revelling in it. She’s still an innocent inexperienced girl, but sexy and sassy in a sweet naïve way that sends Luk crazy. Needs to be kept very light in tone- this is to be a Modern Heat not a Presents. Luk is 100% alpha, but a slightly softer alpha. Play up the fairytale craziness of it all. Play up that although he has the money and the worldly power, she has the power to arouse his passion and his emotions like no other woman ever has. I also firmed up the black moment and resolution, which was both fuzzy and a little corny before (though I still kinda like the corny resolution!). I’d love to write the first chapter and synopsis for the HMB comp. Which reminds me, must check the deadline for entries!
  • still playing with my other potential MH idea, also a possible for the comp, Mace and Nell’s story. No real new ideas there, but the old idea still seems a goer. I like these characters a lot.
  • tonight’s addition to the mix jumped into my mind from out of nowhere (well, maybe from the thought I’d like to write an Australian set story, and this story has sat simmering on a very back burner for ages). It’s a potential solution to the problems of a story about a nurse in a small rural town, that I plotted and started but never completed back in 2001. Eventually I gave up after rewriting the first chapter several times because I just couldn’t get it to work. (I didn’t know it then, but the problem was the usual beginner writer one- started waaaaaay too early, no wonder it was dull and lifeless!). Also, I created a ridiculously complex plotline, with far too much external conflict, and zero internal conflict. Well, I know how to fix it, I hope. I have simplified the plot, while keeping in the key external elements. And hurray, we have internal conflict! Another concern with it (besides all I just mentioned!) is that even if I wrote it right, it didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Certainly not for any of Mills and Boon’s lines, anyway. It’s got medical elements, but it’s really NOT a Medical; it could be a Sweet, but then I’d have to take out the skinny dipping and the sex; and it is definitely not a Presents or MH, the country setting and storyline don’t work there at all. I think I just realised- it could be a Little Black Dress. As long as they don’t think “We have our Australian writer in Janet Gover, don’t need another one” (the reason M&B rejected Nora Roberts- not that I’m any Nora). Oh, and that minor matter of actually writing the thing and getting it right this time! The longer word count will allow more of the external events I really want to have to stay in the story, not to mention the cast of secondary characters I’d have to kill off for a shorter romance. Very tempted to start this one. But then I won’t be entering the competition.

Now we come to the moment of truth. I didn’t submit to Feel the Heat last year, using the excuse of too much going on at work (true, but still an excuse). I’ve successfully avoided finishing anything I felt was ready to submit with the compliments slip from the Instant Seduction comp. I didn’t submit to the NWS this year, deciding Luk and Emma’s story was too fatally flawed to be worth sending in. Now this new-old story idea will distract me from this year’s HMB Presents/Modern Heat comp.

How long am I going to keep playing this game of not finishing properly and therefore not submitting anything? I know exactly what I’m doing, it’s a ploy to escape submitting anything anywhere, so I don’t have to deal with the pain of being told my writing isn’t good enough. So I can keep on being a wannabee and a couldabeen. Crap. I know I’m not ready for publication right now. My writing really isn’t good enough yet. I also know I am learning, and if I keep writing, one day, I will be there.

But how will I ever realise I’ve cracked it, if I can’t get over this fear of rejection along the way? How will I get feedback on my writing? How will I ever get published, if I won’t send anything off? Maybe if I just keep writing for my own enjoyment, one day I’ll feel I’m ready to do it, eventually I’ll hit that Send button. Maybe.

Or maybe I can make a commitment right now to growing myself as a person and a writer, and just doing it. Soon. Tidy up Luk and Emma’s first chapter. Redo the synopsis. Hit Send. Then play with the other ideas.


5 Responses to “Back- and procrastinating again (surprise surprise!)”

  1. Maisey Says:

    You’ve got this, Jane! I think the best thing you can do for yourself is submit again. Rejection sucks, but we can’t live in fear of it, then it’s won. We need to vanquish that sucker.

    Sounds like you have some great ideas for Luk and Emma and I cannot wait to read your chapter!


  2. Eileen Says:

    You MUST, must must must, send that first chapter/synopsis! (Nov.2 — this I know, I’ve been watching it creep up on me). I’ll do it if you will 🙂 I’m on idea #3 which is much more PRESENTS than the other two. I’d been stopping and starting with it all week then, halfway through reading your post, I got inspired (by your post!) and wrote out 15 pages longhand and covered the larger elements of the plot 🙂 Maybe I will have a synopsis by Nov. 2 … thankgoodness they’re not asking for a partial!

    >>”Too many [ideas] to be practical, as always. I have that paralysis of wanting to do five things at once, and as I can’t, I spin my wheels and do nothing while I plan.”
    I know how that feels. Except, instead of spinning my wheels and doing nothing I start all the projects at once and then finish few, if any, of them.

    Glad you had a good trip, but I’m also glad you’ve made it back; I’ve missed your blog.

  3. waitingforthecall Says:

    Oh Eileen, I am so happy you have another idea for the comp! I wrote my Instant Seduction entry from first idea to hitting send in two weeks so I know you can do it!   I spent all afternoon and evening yesterday tweaking my first chapter (the new ideas I have for strengthening the plot don’t really affect the first chapter) and working on the synopsis. Short synopses are hell! I’ve boiled it down from four single spaced to two, but now I have to get that down to two double spaced pages. *sigh*   I want to get my entry in early, so I can start on the new improved outback nurse story   Hey, if you want to bounce plot ideas off me privately, feel free to email- madaboutbooks8 at yahoo.co.uk

  4. Ferdous Says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling so positive about your writing now. It’s very difficult when you are a ‘wannbe’ (myself included) to be positive all the time about our writing and it’s therefore equally important to put our writing out there. Like you I haven’t submitted any writing anywhere even though I regularly make notes of writing competitions, have some ideas and then it just fizzles away! This is way I was so adamant about making the NWS deadline, so at least I can tell myself I did it. I do have a history of starting and then not finishing…..

    Now my plan for the new year is to submit stories to magazines, write short stories as much as I can – in general be like a professional writer and put my writing under scrutiny – the only way to learn really I think. Now I’ve just to got to stick to it, finish my current story – did I say I start and don’t finish….?!

    All the best for the competition, I do hope you enter because every feedback is positive as it takes you that one step closer to publishing.


  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Oh, Ferdous, I can relate to your “starting but not finishing” comment. Short stories sound like an excellent solution, and I know many romance/ women’s fiction writers started with short stories. Janet Gover who now has her second book coming out with Little Black Dress is the latest one I heard of.

    I hope you got helpful feedback from your NWS reader. I’m so disappointed with myself that I missed the NWS deadline, but I knew the story I had planned to submit just wasn’t right. And I’ve had some (hopefully!) excellent thoughts on how to fix it since then, which I might not have had if I’d pushed on with it as it was.

    One thing I am learning about myself- maybe not finishing things isn’t always a bad thing? I’ve been working on Luk and Emma’s story for what feels like forever (actually only very on and off for 10 months) but I’ve been learning so much in the process, it’s been worth it. This story and the reading I’ve done and the thinking I’ve done has been a truly fabulous class in romance writing. Something I would not have gained if I’d edited it fast and submitted it, with a fast R and no feedback (and hence no learning) the certain result! And the next story I’ll be writing is a story I started 9 years ago. Looks like I could be a completer, just a slow one!

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