When I first started writing, I thought it would just be for fun. And maybe one day, I’d get published. It soon became an obsession.
My first attempts at writing were poetry and children’s books. But in 1996, I decided to write what I loved reading. Novels. Specifically, romance novels. My first book was a medical thriller and my first heroine had the same job I had. She was a radiologic technologist. (RT, x-ray technologist, or radiographer. Take your pic but don’t call us techicians.) My fingers flew across the keyboard, typing story ideas and plot lines as they came to me. I didn’t plan the story out. I didn’t even have a rough draft. Just a basic plot in my head. It took less than six months to write what turned out to be the most God-awful book ever written.
It read like a boring radiology text book with a few characters thrown into the mix. I made every mistake new writers ever make. There were tense changes, no true POV, no uniformity of writing, and too much technical detail and backstory dump. I don’t think I even submitted it. Anywhere.
The book no longer exists. It was written in Lotus Works and the floppies aren’t compatible with today’s technology. No great loss. The plot was dated so it would no longer work anyway. My radiographer still used film screen technology and developed films in the darkroom. Most every hospital and urgent care now uses computed radiography or digital radiography. No film. No darkroom.
My next attempt at writing was a time-travel. Again, the words flew from my fingers and I thought it was brilliant. Until I went back and tried reading it from beginning to end. Ug! That was a painful experience. But at least that story still has potential. So, maybe someday…
Until then, I have other stories both written and yet to be written. I love starting a story. The excitement is still there and the ideas are still flowing. I know how the story starts and I know how I want to end. But getting to the end? Now, that’s when the fear sets in.
Once I reach the dreaded sagging middle, I freeze. What if I can’t do it? What if I finish and it sucks as badly as that medical romance I wrote in 1996?
When I’m in the editing phase, the hard part is over. The book is finished. And it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and adding emotion to the story. But sometimes, it takes a while to get to that point.
I’m really more of a pantster than a plotter. I always plot a general outline of characters and the basic story premise, but once that’s done, I just sit down and write. There’s an excitment about getting to The meet. The kiss. The black moment. But that’s where the excitement ends for me. I can’t seem to move forward. And I have to make myself finish the book. I sit down at the computer and think of all the loose ends I have to tie up in the story before I can reach my happily ever after. Then I think of how long it took to get those first books published, and my mind starts to wander.
Invariably, I start web-surfing. I look for ideas for new stories or read blogs or just waste time on Facebook.
The good news is I’ll never run out of story ideas. The bad news is I may never finish the damn book!
I know Out of the Darkness was good. And I know Slightly Tarnished is even better. Reading the final galley on those two books infused me with such pride. I couldn’t believe I’d actually written such good books. Seeing the covers for those books and knowing I wrote them should make it easier to write the next book. That’s what I always thought would happen anyway. Instead, I see those books and I’m afraid.
From first word put to paper until publication, Out of the Darkness was five years in the making. And Slightly Tarnished? Twelve! It was the third book I ever wrote. It only took a year to write but eleven years to edit to the point where it was publishable. And I think that’s the key to my fear.
What if every book I ever write takes that long to publish? I don’t think I can be that patient a second time.
Fortuantely, it’s nice to know I’m not the only author who feels this way.
Amy Corwin is one of my critique parners. She’s a multi-published author who’s published Regency romances and paranormal. And she’s soon to publish a mystery but that’s not my story to tell. You can follow her publishing success at: http://amycorwin.blogspot.com/
Amy says, “I can edit with joy. It’s this painful midway-to-the-end that is horrendous re: initial writing. The first few chapters are a breeze. The rest is blood pouring out of my veins.”
I know exactly how she feels!
So, what is your least favorite part about writing? Or, if you’re a reader, what do you most hate to see in a romance story?
Let me know. Maybe it will improve my writing skills and help lesson my pain. Lol!