It’s an odd mix of fiction and real life, this writing lark. You’ve got one foot in a world of dreams and another foot in the kitchen dealing with the slow cooker.
I didn’t write for a long time, other than the occasional poem. Why? Because I had expectations. It was the next great Canadian novel or nothing, and for me that meant – nothing. It took me a long time to realize, first, that not all of us have the great Canadian novel in us; and second, that there are novels out there that are a lot more fun to read than Moby Dick.
I belong to a very intelligent book club. I mean we read books like Madame Bovary and Don Quixote. But in the middle of an otherwise challenging winter I realized that I don’t always have the stamina to handle Aphra Behn (Never heard of her? Neither had I.), or even the latest Margaret Atwood. Guess what I discovered that winter? Romance.
When, sweetly blushing, I admitted to one of the other book club members that I was reading romance novels, she said, “You should write one.”
“You should write one.” Sometimes words get into your head. It wasn’t long before I was imagining plots, hearing dialogue, considering motivations – and buying Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies. (True. I couldn’t believe it either. Good book.)
Alas, being a romance author isn’t particularly romantic. You wear out your eyes staring at a screen, worry that the ache in your thumbs might become carpel tunnel syndrome, and threaten to withdraw supper-making services if your family doesn’t leave you alone. Your back aches. Your cat feels abandoned. But oh, what can you do, things are bad, heroine’s weeping and hero’s in a snit ….The cat has to wait; you can’t leave them like this. Only another few more pages …
Working. Tearing hair. Discovering a plot twist ten chapters back that leads you straight to a dead end. Help! Another cup of coffee. Maybe a little cry. (Maybe a big sob.)
Strong arms, gentle hands caressing you, drying your tears …
Enough of that. Back to work. Read the thing over. OMG, it’s boring. Boring! Lament: Oh, woe! My masterpiece! What must I do to save you?
Rewrite, hone. Rewrite some more.
I love it. I fall in love with my heroes and delight in my heroines. I get a kick out of creating the quagmires they get themselves into, and cheer as they emerge – together. Sometimes, I even learn something from them.
Is it fun? Oh, yeah.