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The impossible choice

Today’s MFRW 52 week challenge asks us to pick between reading, writing, and living.

Reading allows you to immerse yourself in a world. The “real” world falls away and you are sucked into a brand new world. If the book is written in the first person, all you read is I, I, I and it’s impossible not to feel like it’s about you. But even in the third person, you feel like the spy, sneaking into other people’s lives. Seeing their thoughts, knowing their dreams, and in the case of the romance reader–seeing the couple come together despite challenges and obstacles.

Writing allows you to play God. You decide what each character is like, you give them dreams and obstacles, and you create the world in which they live. Sometimes characters hijack your plans, but that doesn’t make it less fun. In fact, some of the most interesting content is generated when characters take over. It can be emotionally taxing though because, even more than when you read, you feel what the characters are feeling. Delilah broke down sobbing when she wrote the fight between Meg and RJ in Capturing the Moment.

And then there is real life. Let’s be real for a moment–real life can be fucking hard. Sometimes it’s awful. Sometimes we just need an escape.

But real life can be just as beautiful as the worlds you escape to. Doing Snapchat at a restaurant to keep a child happy is silly, but it’s a memory. Seeing a movie. Hugging a loved one. There are simple joys like your favorite song on the radio. Real life is hard, but it’s also beautiful as well.

All three share a common thing–they introduce you to new things. Why choose?

Is writing for fun, profit, or other?

Welcome to week 1 of 52 prompts from Marketing for Romance Writers.

This week’s question is Writing–Doing it for fun, profit, or other?

I’ve been telling stories as long as I can remember, so I’ve never been motivated by money. The problem with the word “fun” implies frivolity, and writing isn’t a frivolous act for me. I suppose that means I fall into the “other” category. Or at least I used to.

Turning professional has really exposed how much of writing is marketing, and how hard it can be to find an audience and to profit from your writing. Unless you’re Nora Roberts or Beverly Jenkins you can’t expect the money to come pouring in. So, sure, you can say you’re writing for the money, but I don’t know how long you’ll last if that is your motivating factor.

Is writing fun? Yes, although I hate editing. But when I get sucked into the worlds I’m creating and am in the story with my characters, I’m having a ton of fun (well, except when they make me cry, but even that is fun in its own way). I would argue that I wrote primarily for fun when I used to write drafts of stories, not really bother with editing, and then threw them up on websites like literotica. The comments stroked my ego, as did the numbers that told me how many people had read it.

The thing is that while writing is fun, there’s so much more involved with professionally doing it. You hold yourself to a much higher standard, you have beta readers, you go through drafts (don’t even get me started on how many drafts fucking Plunder has been through), and then you either submit to a company (who will expect you to market your own books) or you self-publish (which carries a lot of issues like formatting, making a cover, etc). It is time consuming and often draining. Marketing is where I struggle and, if anything, makes writing less fun for me.

So why bother? If editing is a hassle and marketing can be soul-sucking why do it for anything other than fun? I want to share my stories with the world, and I hope that I will eventually find my audience. I’m still a newborn when it comes to everything that isn’t writing.

I also don’t know how not to write. The stories grow inside me until I have no choice but to write them down. For me, writing is like reading–a compulsion, something as vital as breathing for me. I don’t know how not to do it. While I have taken breaks in writing, I’m still telling stories–to myself, to my kids, to the cats, whatever.

Why do you write?

Writing Conference

This weekend I am attending WorldCon 76. This is a writing/fan con, and the first that I’ve attended as an author. I’m looking forward to classes like

  • Writing About Fighting
  • Self-Publishing 101
  • Young Adult: Looking at the World Through a Skewed Lens
  • Successfully Negotiating Book Contracts
  • New Ancestral Myths
  • Deep Dive: Idea Versus Story

I won’t have a post Friday or Monday because of the convention, unless there’s some downtime at the con.

This con is aimed primarily at Science Fiction writers, but it’s only twenty minutes away, and I can easily transfer the lessons to romance. And who’s to say I might not want to turn my head that way? I’ve already had a sci-fi story published in Coming Together: Among the Stars. So I’ve learned to never say never about a certain genre.

Signing up for this con and looking at the classes makes me so sad that I couldn’t go to the Romance Writers of America convention this year, and makes me determined to go next year.

 

Traveling, or how to get even less writing done

A few posts ago, I talked about how summer was going to be a tightrope walk in terms of trying to accomplish some real writing. Then I went on vacation with my daughters, but without my partner and learned what really getting no work done feels like.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets. We saw Wicked and Anastasia (another example of changing a story without lessening either version) on Broadway, sketched in the Egyptian section of the Met, checked out the Bronx Zoo, and they climbed some big boulders in Central Park. There were girl/doll manicures and doll salon appointments at American Girl. They’re big fans of Christina Tosi on Masterchef Junior so we went to her desserterie called Milk Bar. They sulked while I made them take a photo in Times Square (#worstmomever). It was lovely.

New York was followed by a visit home to Boston. Which means seeing friends, catching up over dinners, hanging out with family, and generally having a wonderful time. I took the girls to the Museum of Science (a favorite location of mine and my husband’s), and on a Duck Tour of the city.

While I got zero writing done (even on this blog, apart from the pre-scheduled post), I’ve been left refreshed and ready to go. Apart from the minor inconvenience of surgery on Friday.

Bear with me–once I’m done with surgery, I’m all yours until August.

Summer

Tomorrow my baby graduates from kindergarten and the school year ends. This is a time of year that I am quite conflicted about. On one hand summer means that we don’t have to adhere to a tight schedule, and I don’t have to police homework or bedtimes. On the other hand, it is about to become immensely more difficult to get writing done.

June is actually almost a complete disaster, writing-wise. I’m going away with the girls on my own for two weeks to the East Coast, and then when we get back I’m having surgery. Nothing serious, per se, but I’ll still be out of commission for a week.

On the up side (?) my research for Plunder is coming along.

I’m on my fourth research book. I’ve read about ships, pirate myths vs reality, the history of rum, and now another book on pirates. I’ve had to go and correct an embarrassing number of things already, and it’s only the start. An example is that pirates did not wear boots. I have multiple books on race and slavery in the Caribbean, and I’m trying to think of a way to include those important details without either creating a white savior or ignoring them altogether.

As long as I can read and take notes, which I will be able to do, then hopefully I’ll be making some forward progress.

But the balance between family and work is going to go out of balance, and I’ll need to find a way to move forward. I get cranky and antsy when I’m not writing.

With the holiday, I’m only posting Tues and Thurs this week, and I hope to go back to Mon/Wed/Fri next week.

Petticoats and Push Up Bras

 

When I was in college, one of my jobs was to work as a costumed tour guide at The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum as it was known in those days. I led a “re-enactment” of the Tea Party on a rotating basis with the other tour guides. We’d start off in a town hall set up, and then I’d lead them down a gangplank to a reproduction ship called The Beaver (yes, really) to a crescendo of throwing (Styrofoam, attached to the ship via a thick, long rope) chests of “tea” off the deck of the ship.

I also happened to be dating my boss.

No, I never had sex on the ship, but rumor had it that employees had gotten it on below decks.

Which led to the idea of a story set at my old workplace…Petticoats and Push Up Bras.

Here’s a snippet

My lips met Jeff’s hungrily as my back collided with the hull. I pushed Jeff’s tri-corn hat from his head so I could fist my hands in his thick brown hair. He parted his lips to let me explore uncharted territory, and his tongue teased mine as his hands traveled over my cotton shift.

Jeff broke the kiss. He gently pulled at the shift’s neckline. Peering down, he shook his head. “I don’t think they had blue lace bras in the Colonies,” he tsked. “No Ye Olde Felicity’s Secret for the maidens to shop at. I think I’ll need to check under your skirts as well.”

My breathing was shallow, as if I were still corseted. It was one thing to flirt and make out with Jeff, but entirely another to take it that far. I wavered, tempted by the pulsing between my legs. My relationship was on the rocks…

Footsteps on the deck above reverberated above us.

“Zombies!” I squeaked.

Jeff did a double-take, not quite stifling a snicker, “Did you just say zombies?”

Andrew’s voice echoed through the hull. “I think you’ll find this is a great location for your company party. We’ll do the full show, and then some of my actors can circulate while others serve hors d’oeuvres. This way.”

Jeff and I peered around the tea crates. Red high heels slowly descended the steps.

Jeff pulled me backwards, covering my mouth. “Shhh! There’s no reason for them to look back here. The interesting displays are out there.”

“What’s the big deal? We can just tell them we were closing up the ship,” I hissed, about to stand up.

He tugged me back down. “It’s not the first time I’ve gotten caught closing up the ship. Drew won’t believe you. C’mon, Hannah, please?”

2017: The Year in Review

It’s about that time of year again when we take stock of the year that has been and think towards the year that will be.

2017 was rough. I oversaw an international move from Singapore back to the US. I had fantasies of doing the full rewrite of Plunder during the two weeks my children were with my in-laws. That didn’t happen.

myths monsters mutations

Once I was ready to start writing again (aka my kids were in summer day camp for half of the summer/were both in school in the fall) I spent a great deal of time rewriting and expanding “For Love of Snow White.” from a few thousand words to over 10k. It was published earlier this month in Myths, Monsters, Mutations.

pirate 2

Now I’ve returned to working on Plunder, and I’m only at about the halfway mark. It’s expanded from 50k to nearly 60k, most of it written in the past month (or roughly 1/5 the amount in the NaNo challenge–such is life).

I’m learning to forgive myself for not writing as much as I think I should. I am not yet someone who can burn out 3-4k words a day, or even 2k. I need to learn that that is okay–that I have other commitments that will affect the ebb and flow of my writing.

That said, I am committed to finishing Plunder in 2018. I also aspire to write one to two reindeer stories as this is the first year in the last four where I didn’t write or publish one. I’m considering editing an anthology as well.