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!

Changes… December 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been doing some thinking about my writing, and I am stopping work on the Presents version of Luk and Emma.

I just can’t settle to it, because the single title version keeps whispering plot ideas to me!

It’s the same basic premise but longer and with more secondary characters and subplots, and less tightly focused on the romance. More complicated internal conflict though. Also less sexy too, though the sex will still be there, which I think will suit my voice better. I really can’t seem to catch either the deep emotional intensity needed for Presents, or the lighter flirty tone of the Modern Heat. I need to play around more and work out where my voice belongs. Don’t think it’s Harlequin.

I was going to wait until the end of January, when we will have either had full requests or Rs from the contest, but I can’t keep plugging away at the Presents version till then. My heart isn’t in it, and it shows in my writing.

Part of what triggered this has been the wonderful success of Maisey, one of my writing buddies, who had her Call from Harlequin Presents this week. Maisey loves Presents, loves to read them better than anything else, never thought of writing for any other line. She’s been focused on one writing goal- becoming a Presents author. And she has done it, and I am so, so happy for her well-deserved achievement!

But it got me thinking about what I want. What is my goal, really and truly? Could part of the reason I am missing the mark be that I’m not aiming at the right target?

I’m a lot less focused than Maisey, that’s for sure. I enjoy Presents stories, but I enjoy a whole lot of other stories too. When I decided to put my energies back into fiction writing, around two years ago, I started with a single title romantic comedy/suspense. Then just when I was about to dive into rewriting it in February, I heard about the Harlequin Instant Seduction contest. I hadn’t read a Presents for years, so I bought a few. Liked them, put together an entry for the contest in just two weeks. Which got an R, of course, but a nice encouraging R with a Compliments Slip. But that R stopped the nearly finished Presents story dead.

Then for a year I played with lots of Presents/ Modern Heat story ideas, but nothing grabbed me, nothing went past one or two chapters.

Until Luk and Emma’s story. I made a promise to myself and my crit group that I would finish the first draft. I couldn’t write anything else, until that was done. Well, it got done. But it kept careening off the tracks in wild and crazy directions that weren’t where it was supposed to go. When it came to edit it, I had to decide- was it Presents or single title. It was a messy hybrid, that would need a load of work to take it either way and make it work.

What decided me was, again, the contest. This year’s Harlequin Presents competition. I edited it to fit Presents, so I could enter the contest, along with a couple of the others in my writing group.

It wasn’t a bad entry. It could even be a passably good, reasonably competent attempt at a Presents. But it’s dead. It doesn’t have that spark of life that would take it beyond competent and make it stand out from the rest of the entries. Passion. Commitment. That indefinable something that grabs the reader. That something I can see in several of my buddies’ writing, but not in mine.

I can go two ways with this.

I can decide I just don’t have the talent it takes, that other people have that magic something and I don’t, so I should give up. Or I can look honestly at what I’ve been trying to do and accept that if my voice doesn’t fit with Presents, maybe that’s because I’m trying to write what I think I “should” write rather than what I really want to write. Maybe I chose to target Presents because of the competitions, and because my writing buddies were aiming there, rather than out of a real commitment and desire to write for that line.

It’s an interesting idea- what if someone somehow managed to write well enough to win a contest for a line they really didn’t want to write for, and found themselves tied to writing books they didn’t really want to write?

Thank God, that didn’t happen to me! I’m assuming the editors would have contacted the contest winners by now, so not hearing anything means I’m not a winner or runner up. (Not that I expected to be!)

That means I’m free to take this story whatever direction I want. And I want to try it as a longer story, less focused on the relationship, though it’s still an important element. What if on the island fairy tales and magic are real? How will that affect Emma and Luk? How will that make a difference to their relationship? How will that make their issues different?

Maybe if I let my story run off the rails it will crash and burn in a hot mess. Maybe it will unfold its wings and fly. Let’s see!

 

Giving up or giving in? August 15, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:33 am
Tags: , ,
stress_reduction_kitI’m in a funny mood today, and not ha ha.
I don’t think I want to keep doing this. The chase for publication I mean, not writing.
It’s just too much work, and it takes all the fun out of writing. I know my writing is still a long way off being ready for acceptance by M&B, and even if it was, it won’t necessarily get any easier. It’s still all waits and rejections and needing to meet deadlines and having to write what the editors want to meet contracts. 
I feel like I have enough s**t in my life without adding pushing to get published as well.
All writing is for me at the moment is guilt.
I’m tired of getting home from work at 7.30, exhausted and brainfried, and feeling guilty that I want to relax, not jump into edits. I’m tired of spending my too short precious weekends feeling guilty about doing anything other than writing.
So I’m calling a time out. I don’t care if I don’t put anything in for the NWS, don’t mind not entering the Presents/Modern comp. I just want to try to get my life back, or some little bit of it anyway, rather than have nothing but work, or chasing an elusive and distant dream.
Maybe that makes me a wimp who just isn’t tough enough for the real world of writing. Maybe it makes me a dilettante who just wants to play at writing. Whatever. I don’t much care.
I’m hoping that in some perverse reverse-psychology way, I’ll do more writing this way. I need to get my joy in writing back, need it to be something I want to do again. Not just yet another pressure to perform I put on myself.
I get more than enough of that in my day job.
So today, I’m not going to sit at my laptop all afternoon. I’m going shopping. I want to wander round the shops. Look at shoes and clothes. Buy some books. Sit and indulge myself in the simple pleasure of losing myself in another writer’s created world and characters.
And not feel any guilt that I’m not spending that time on mine.
 

Whose black moment is it, anyway? June 14, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:51 am
Tags: , , , ,

N6CCAVDBEVSCA2GMK2ACA1HVHO2CA1UVPOCCAIV47QMCAX9AW2UCA6MW2TRCA3UN97YCA4RK9LLCAK6GC5NCAMBP6BCCAID62T3CA1NYVXHCA0QIE69CA251QCGCAEN1UJ1CAKJODYGCATFL6KJCAFY7HET

“… at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.” Joseph Cambell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

 

 

 

 

I am not just procrastinating. I am going into a fully fledged depression.

If I don’t finish this story, I don’t have to submit it. If I don’t submit it, it can’t be rejected. If it isn’t rejected, I can keep on being a “couldabeen”. I won’t have to face the fact that I could fail at my dream of writing like I failed at my dream of being a mother. Because who am I if one by one I have to give up on all my dreams?  What am I left with?

I’ve been escaping into safe things, things I know I can do, or things where if doesn’t mean that much to me if I have a few projects that don’t quite work out. Sewing, knitting, cooking, jewellery making. If something doesn’t work, I might be a little frustrated, but I don’t take it personally. I don’t need to. It never meant that much to me anyway.

But writing does. It’s personal. It’s who I am. If my writing sucks, I suck. And boy, does my writing suck right now! This first draft feels so bad I don’t see any point in keeping on going, there’s nothing here that can possibly be turned into good story. And no point starting a new story, because it will just be the same.

I need to stop this right now, before I spiral down into a crash and burn I might never get out of.

Somehow, I need to find a way to step back, get some detachment. Allow it to be okay if I play around with writing, experiment with things knowing it might not work out, might not be anything I ever want to show another human being let alone submit to an editor. Just like I’ve made garments that have never been worn, but have gone straight into the rag bag; or a few jewellery pieces that sit in the bottom of my work box and no one has ever seen; or those recipe experiments that are too bad to even feed to the dog, and we just get takeaway for dinner that night instead.

Sometimes things don’t come out how we want, that’s part of life. Being okay with that is what lets us try, try again, take chances, do things differently, and enjoy the journey regardless of whether ultimately we succeed or not.

That’s the attitude I need.

How to get there from here, I don’t know!

But just saying that, I feel different. I want to go write, make things happen for Luk and Emma. Sometimes it seems just saying “I know I need to change but I don’t know how,” brings its own light to the darkness. Being willing to admit there is a problem, and being open to the solution, begins the change process. Unless our story people go through their black moment, they can’t win through to their lasting happiness. And unless we admit we are in the dark, we can’t see the light when it comes.

Step one is to look at my expectations.

The reason I can play and have fun with other creative stuff is that I am not expecting to produce a professional result. I don’t compare my wobbly-seamed homemade dress with haute couture, or my lumpy-but-yum carrot cake with the work of a top patissiere. Yet for some crazy reason I think my first draft dreck should be as good as published writing, that has been maybe been rewritten, edited and polished twenty times by the writer from her first draft, with the help of an editor too?

The reason I take it so personally is that writing has become inextricably linked in my mind with my other major life goals. From when I was a young girl,  there were three things I wanted to achieve in my life. Have children and be a good mother, be a published writer, and build my own little house. Though not necessarily in that order.

For a long time, writing was the thing I worked on the most. I also renovated two houses. Then, in my thirties, emphasis shifted. All my focus was on having a baby. I didn’t write, apart from some journalling, didn’t think about much else. It probably wasn’t too healthy a way to be, especially when no matter how “good” I was, how much I followed the rules, I couldn’t make it happen. I think I have been in danger of making writing a replacement obsession. Also not healthy.

It’s a good thing that I’m letting myself have some time off, play with other creative stuff, have other loves and other interests. Monomania is never attractive! No need to feel guilty or as if I am somehow betraying myself by taking a break from the intensity of focus.

What is not good is making myself depressed, feeling a failure, thinking that wanting a weekend off from writing means I should give up.

I needed a break, so I could stand back and see what was happening. Taking a break is NOT giving up, it’s having a breather and finding a different, maybe better way to head towards where I want to get.

I gave having a baby my best shot seven times before I gave up trying any more. Here’s my deal with myself- I will give becoming  a published romance writer seven of my best shots too before I give up on that. Hey, if I can handle seven lost pregnancies, I can handle seven story rejections, right?  One submission down, six to go!

 

Finding what it takes April 13, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:28 am
Tags: , , ,

finishline

It’s Easter. Four days off work. I planned to get a lot done. And I haven’t done any writing at all this weekend. A bit of story planning on Friday, nothing at all the last two days. Nada. Not one word. Not even any notes. My mind is completely blank.

I’ve been telling myself I don’t care and I’ve just been giving myself a break, but the fact is, I do care, I care very much. I’ve been feeling numb, but today I feel heartbroken and I don’t know why. I just don’t think I can do this. I’m feeling a deep and corrosive sense of failure. My writing group friends are finishing and submitting stories. I can’t help comparing myself and what I have achieved (NOT!) in the past year with what they have done.

It’s nearly a year since I got the feedback (AKA rejection letter) from the IS contest. Since then all I’ve done is have story ideas and write first chapters, somethimes a few times over. This story I’ve got to chapter three then stopped. The furthest I’ve got, since getting the letter this time last year and knowing there was no point completing the IS story even though I was only about 10,000 words away from the end.

I just realised, looking back at my blog posts to find the one about the HMB letter, that this is the anniversary of more than my first Mills and Boon rejection. It’s also the anniversary of what should have been the birthday of the baby I got furthest into pregnancy with. I lost Rose at 18 weeks. The letter terminated Bruno and Rebecca’s story at 40,000 words. I’m now in a recurrent miscarriage pattern with my writing.

When I sent that competition entry off, oddly there was no fear in my mind that it would be rejected. I felt confident that I had written a good story and it would be accepted. Just like with my first preganancy, where it never occured to me that I might not end up with a baby. The only feeling when I saw the positive pregnancy test was pure joy and anticipation that nine months later, I would have a baby.

Seven miscarriages later, there didn’t seem to be much point doing pregnancy tests. Why bother, why get excited and get my hopes up. A positive test didn’t mean hope and joy, it meant fear and anxiety, waiting for it all to go wrong again. Sometimes I lost the pregnancy within a few days, sometimes it took longer, eight, ten, twelve weeks. With Rose I got to sixteen weeks before the big problems started. I’d had scans. Seen her tiny heart beating. Seen her moving her arms and legs. Felt the tiny flutters of movement. Been told I should stop worrying now, I was past the stage where things can go wrong. I felt such happiness. At last it was going to happen. This time, this time I would have a baby, no more grief and sorrow, thank God.  It didn’t happen like that. Yes, I had a baby,  but a  baby not much bigger than a Barbie doll, born at eighteen weeks, too early to have any chance of survival.

After the next couple of pregnancies also miscarried, but much earlier, I stopped doing pregnancy tests. If giving up caffeine and alcohol and eating only organic food and taking the right vitamin tablets hadn’t stopped me losing my babies, maybe pretending I wasn’t pregnant and and wasn’t trying to get pregnant and didn’t care and just carrying on like normal would work. It didn’t. The wild hope if my period was late, the gut deep sense of failure and loss when the bleeding came had me on a crazy roller coaster ride. I was so angry with my husband when he insisted that we were going to stop trying, that we wouldn’t ever have unprotected sex. He couldn’t bear seeing me so upset. He was right of course. It stopped the crazy ups and downs. Replaced them with a permanent down. I had no hope. I was still left with the monthly reminder of my failure as a woman. My failure to fulfil my deepest, oldest, most cherished dream.

So cross that one off the list. Only thing to do was to move onto the next thing on my list of things I wanted to do before I was forty, written back when I was eighteen, when anything seemed possible, except believing I would ever be as impossibly old as forty!

 By then, I was forty seven and the three biggies at the top of the list still weren’t done. Having a baby was out. The other two were be a published fiction writer and build my own house. House building was going to be difficult. I was living in Britain, where land was expensive and there were armies of men with clipboards checking that building codes were fully enforced. The sort of small funky organic house I wanted was out of the question. Besides the fact my very “But what would be neighbours think?” husband would be horrified at the idea.  So only one idea left. Writing.

I’d had a couple of articles published, but they didn’t count, the dream was very specific that it had to be fiction. I was the kid who was always scribbling stories. In high school my teachers were encouraging. I sent a few stories and poems off  to magazines and had rejections. It didn’t feel like such a big deal, I’d try again another time. But I didn’t.  There were always distractions. I started nursing instead and writing was always there but just for me.  Went back to uni as a mature student in my late twenties and did english and creative writing courses. Lecturers encouraging, wanted me to submit my writing to journals. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to be writing literary short stories. I wanted to be writing the genre stuff that the lecturers disapproved of. Romance, fantasy. I left uni and kept writing the things I wanted to write, but never finishing anything. Nothing was ever good enough. I didn’t write consistently either, my writing was episodic. Oh, I journalled most days. And my journal pages were full of story ideas, that I never wrote. Every couple of years I would decide I wanted to write seriously, and I would work up an idea and start writing. But I never got much past chapter one. Until late December 2007, when I decided I was going to go for it with writing, really go for it. That was when I finally crossed “baby” off the dream list, and looked at the next thing on the list.

So, JanNo 2008. Dived into a story, finished by 27th January. Found out about the HMB Instant Seduction competition, wrote and sent off my first chapter and synopsis by 14th February. Kept writing the story, and was near finishing in April 2008 when the letter came. I didn’t want to drop that story, but recognised there was not much point finishing it when they didn’t want to see it. Since then, I’ve been in miscarriage mode with my writing. Lots of hopeful starts that go nowhere. In December I recognised that pattern and committed to finishing the story I was working on. I’m still stuck on that same story, starting and restarting it when I know I just need to keep writing and finish the bloody thing. Even if it’s the most rubbishy first draft ever, just get the darned thing done so I can move on! I want to have a go at redoing my IS entry, and my JanNo, with all I have learned about romance writing in the last year. It’s good to recognise that it really hasn’t been a wasted year. I may not have completed anything, but I’ve still learned a lot and made some good friends in the romance writing community.

I still don’t know quite how to get out of this stuck place I’m in and break the miscarriage pattern. I have a week off between jobs, so I’m planning to do Book in a Week on this story and try to just write my way through it. Six days, 8,500 words a day. It will be total crap, but it will be soooo good to finally write The End!

 

Getting unstuck March 29, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 1:45 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

000-title-page-detail-angel-with-whip-q75-449x500Hmm, thinking about that pitch contest and my frustrations with the current story has me ready to, well, probably not give up, but definitely take some time out. A looooong time out.

It’s official- I hate Luk and Gabi. I just want to put them in a car and drive it off a cliff into the sea, and type The End.
Well, not really. I actually like both of them a lot. But I am so fed up with struggling with their freaking going-nowhere story! I’ve done no other writing apart from their story for nearly four months, and where am I up to? Half way through chapter two, for the fourth time! Arrrggghhh!
I really do want to just stop, have a break from them. Spend a week doing no writing but lots of reading, or go back and edit last years JanNo, or play around with some different story ideas, or something. Anything that’s not this story!
But maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll keep going with it. Thinking about how I would pitch the story, not just for a contest but for my writing group,  just gave me an idea for what the story might need. Because if I can’t get the essence of the story in a few simple sentences, my plot is too convoluted and the characters’ internal conflicts aren’t central enough to the story.
Funny how giving myself permission to moan and say I want to stop produces more ideas! Looks like I didn’t really want to give up, I just wanted to get unstuck.
Hopefully this idea will make sense of things that didn’t make sense in the story once I took out the villain. He needed to go, he was becoming too much the driver of the action rather than the H and h, but then I didn’t have a strong enough reason for Gabi becoming princess to be important. I’d lost a big chunk of motivation. But this might put it back! It does require some changes,  actually it’s closer to my original premise for the story.
So it’s not a new idea at all, it’s taking my new knowledge of the characters back into my very first setting and premise, that the country Gabi finds herself princess of is one that has just come out of communism. Okay, I know all that happened years ago in the real world, but this one little country didn’t do it then, held on to the old ways, and now they want to reinstate the monarchy. That explains why all week I’ve wanted to change Gabi’s name to Emma, too. It was Emma in the original version, then when I changed the setting and situation, I changed her name to Gabriella.
Yippee! I can have some fun playing with this, I think it might just work and I can just write forward from here. I am not going back to rewrite what’s already been done! And I might just escape the wrath of my writing group’s motivational expert, who uses techiques rather like the avenging angel in the photo. I know, I know, some people pay good money for a whipping. But pain is just so not my thing!
 

Oops, wrong life choice! February 7, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 1:15 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

wrongway-goback134091220073uhr5

2008 was an interesting year. “Interesting” in the sense of that Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

Started off pretty good. I’d got back into my writing again and was loving it, and had a great job that I enjoyed with a work schedule that gave me plenty of time and energy to write when I wasn’t at my job. I finished a 50,000 word story for JanNo, then got stuck into my new story for the Instant Seduction competition. Things looked good, and I was well on target for my goal of completing four stories in the year. Then big changes happened at the Day Job. The small friendly health care company I worked for was taken over by a giant much less friendly one. I was asked to take on a different role, not really knowing what I was letting myself in for. In the space of a couple of months, my dream job morphed into the Job that Ate My Life. Instead of writing stories, I was writing a massive software user guide and training manual, and designing and delivering a completely new three week training programme for new staff. Even worse, I knew that once I had done my job well and delivered the training to enough staff working for the new company at the new site, chances were our small centre would be shut down and the team disbanded. Not a happy time, and not much writing got done. I guessed when I thought the redundancies would happen, researched the likely payoff staff would be given, and it didn’t seem worth waiting for the axe to fall.

So I jumped before I was pushed, and accepted a new job offer one week before the sacking of our entire team was announced. Duh! I really misjudged the timing, and the financial cost of that decision. Not only did it happen months earlier than I thought, the big nasty company actually were very generous in the payouts they offered staff, paying far more than the legal minimum. If I’d waited a week to resign I would have got a juicy package that would have made a biiiiiiig difference to our finances, especially as my husband worked in the same team and was made redundant too but for complex contract reasons got a much smaller payout.

And now three months into the new job I am realising I’ve made a massive mistake. This job is if anything even more life devouring than the old one was! Interesting role, great team, fantastic opportunities for education and career progression. Ten or fifteen years ago, when I was a bit more ambitious and career orientated, it would have been the perfect job for me. Now, it’s just not what I want. At the time I thought it was what I wanted, but I was wrong. I don’t want a job that takes 12 hours out of my day. I don’t want a job that needs me to study and research in my own time. I don’t want a job where I come home worrying about my patients and waking up dreaming about them. I don’t want a job that allows me to make excuses about having no time to write.

Oops, wrong life choice! So easy to make these decisions which aren’t aligned to our real goals. I even spent some time telling myself that I really didn’t have the talent to write, so I should just give up on writing and make the most of the new job. It really is a fabulous job after all. Plus I don’t want to let the team down. I don’t want to let my patients down. I don’t want to feel that I haven’t kept my end of the bargain with my employer, having gone into the interviews happy and optimistic and “Yes, I can do this!” I don’t want to have to admit that I tried something and I failed, that it was just too hard for me. And I do still have to earn enough money to keep this household going, so taking time out to focus on writing isn’t an option. No guarantee that if I find another job it won’t turn out to be the same.

But I feel the decision has been made now. I really do know what is right for me. I’m going to look for a different job and resign. I spoke to my manager a couple of weeks ago, discussed my concerns that it wasn’t the job for me, allowed myself to be easily convinced that I was expecting too much of myself, it was early days, stick in there. Last weekend, out for coffee with a girlfriend, we talked about this, and it was the opposite way around. She was all for me going for another job, I argued myself out of it and decided no, I should stay. It’s the “shoulds” not the “wants tos” that are keeping me there. I know it’s not the job that is right for me, right now.

Do I have the courage to admit I made a mistake, to stop now before both my employer (in expensive training) and I put any more energy into this wrong choice. Can I go back, try again with another less demanding job, make writing my primary focus? Because that’s a risky choice. If I relegate writing to the sidelines, to the cracks and crevices, and get nowhere with it, I can go on being a wannabe and a couldabeen. I can still always wonder if I might have succeeded if only life circumstances had been different, can still kid myself that I do have the talent, I just didn’t have the time.

The flip side of that, if I commit to my writing and go for it wholeheartedly, is that if I still don’t get published, I have to accept that I just don’t have it. That I really don’t have that indefinable something that makes one writer’s stories a must read and another’s with the same premise ho hum. If I go for it, there are no more excuses.

That’s scary. Very scary.

 

Hero problems April 11, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:40 pm
Tags: , ,

No time to post for a while as I had to suddenly go to stay with my mother in law who suddenly became sick. I took my laptop so I could keep writing if I had the chance, but had no internet access, not even via mobile internet on my PDA as no mobile signal there either. I went through withdrawal symptoms as I realised just how dependent I am on my daily fix of blogs and discussions. I felt like all my friends had left me, plus I was stuck dealing with a difficult patient who alternated between being worryingly ill (as in can I safely wait and see how she is in half an hour, should I be calling the doctor, or does she need to go to hospital even though she doesn’t want to as I know I’ve looked after people who weren’t this sick but were admitted?), or cantankerous as she felt just a little better. She getting back to normal now, thank God, and I’m back home with my dh again, but it’s taken a while to get back into my story.

I got very stuck- my hero wanted to do something that seemed just so unheroic to me, but I wasn’t sure if I was self-censoring and that was how the story should go, so I should write it that way anyway; or if my instincts telling me that the idea sucked were absolutely right and no reader would respect a hero who behaved in that way. I have had some great advice from the very generous writers over at the e-Harlequin blog, who all think that he shouldn’t do it. It’s a tricky balance allowing heroes to be flawed, but not too flawed, he can make mistakes, but he still has to stay heroic, a man both the heroine and the reader can love and respect.

I thing a major problem here is that I didn’t spend enough pre-writing time really getting to know my characters, as I started the story so quickly to meet the competition deadline. I started with very two dimensional characters created to fit the situation. I have dug a lot deeper into them since then, and Rebecca has become a more rounded and developed person, I’m still having a lot more problems with my hero. I’m not sure I like or respect him, let alone falling in love with him! I’m not even sure he has the right name. Her POV scenes have more reality and emotion in them, while his lie flat and lifeless on the page. I need to spend more time finding out what there is to like and respect in him, what makes him a fitting man for my heroine, then I just hope I can fix the dead bits in the edits.

I oscillate between feeling I should just give up on the story and start something new (several stories in my ideas file are whispering “me, me me”), or keep plodding on with the painful process this story has become, in the hope that once I have a full first draft I can salvage something out of it. It’s so tempting to give in, and start afresh with a lovely shiny new problem-free story. But I don’t want to become a serial “give up in the middle” writer. Sure, it’s a step forward from the “give up after the first chapter” writer I was before, but not enough to get me where I want to be! I keep thinking of the bad times in my marriage, the times I wanted out, the times I felt I couldn’t bear things as they were any more, and only my committment kept me in there, trying to make things better, and how our relationship came to a stronger deeper more supportive place as a result. Maybe the story is the same, maybe hanging in there and keeping on working at it will produce soemthing worthwhile in the end. Or maybe, just like some relationships, it’s too fatally flawed to be worth pouring more energy into. I’m not sure how to discern the difference.

I’m trying hard to give up on hoping for a request from the Instant Seduction Competition editors to submit the full manuscript, although one of the editors has posted that they are still sending requests out.  The first chapter I sent in, though it was the best I could do at the time, in the time I had, just isn’t good enough. But if I keep going, maybe I can create a good story out of this, maybe I can send in my “three chapters and synopsis” in the usual way. Or maybe that’s an unrealistic expectation, and this will be one of the never to be submitted or published practice stories most published writers probably have hidden away. We’ll see….

The only way to find out is to say enough for today of everything else- stop blogging, stop posting on discussion groups, stop writing about writing, and get on with what this is ultimately all about- doing some real writing on the story, and seeing where it goes from there!