The other day, I did a blog branding workshop with the super awesome Arrianne Serafico. It was about finding your brand message and learning to articulate it to your blog. It was very insightful, and it taught me a lot about what I want my message to the world will be. So you may notice the content of the blog will be shifting just slightly towards my work--that is, writing and the things I put myself through to fulfil that 2016 goal: WRITE. THAT. STORY.
I just finished writing a novel (50k words, y'all!) for #romanceclass2016, and it was surprising how quickly I hammered out those words. We were given a formula to work with, and when I had the outline all ready, it was easy to write. These kinds of stories are the ones that I like writing the most, with lots of banter, the right amount of drama and just a pinch of sexytimes. Writing contemporary romance has become formulaic to me, in a way, and I don't think its necessarily a bad thing.
But after that, my friend came back to me with the edits to my rewrite of The Lady in Pink, a story I wrote almost a year ago for #StrangeLit. Its mostly romance, with Impressionists and ghosts mixed in. I wanted to expand the story into a full novel, just because I felt that the story could handle more weight, more sexytimes! (because we always need good sexytimes, haha)
When I got the draft back though, I was surprised. I remember one of the notes was 'why are you so descriptive of this guy?' 'and why are his abs important?' 'their love is quite obvious!'
Suddenly I was being asked to break out of the formula that I knew and loved. I was being encouraged to multi-layer, create more subtlety, tone down descriptions and think carefully about my metaphors. I was asked to consider writing character essays, plotting the plot in the point of view of four different characters. Holy gaucamole Batman, I was being asked to write a Book.
As in...not a romance novel.
I'm not saying that the romance novel is better or not better. It's the same thing. It's just that I haven't done any of this before, and it was terrifying.
When I wrote Cities more than a year ago, I remember it was that easy for me too. I wasn't thinking about what I was going to do with it after, how I could make it marketable, etc., etc. But with this Paris story, there are just so many possibilities that it's making the writing scary. Suddenly having this book in everyone's shelves was a possibility. I was sure that if I released it, there would people who would read it, or hate it, or ask for more. I could send it to an agent! I could self-publish! I could send it to a publishing house!
And when you start thinking of possibilities, it's a different sort of fear. What if its not good enough? What if nobody liked it? What if French/British people actually read it?
Now I find myself questioning every line I write. If the character does this, is it in keeping with the plot? The character herself? Is the POV changing? If I change this thing will I have to go back and change everything else (the answer is usually yes).
I keep watching the Great British Bake Off to keep myself from overthinking. And when you watch one episode of GBBO, you can't not watch the next. Then when you run out of GBBO, there's Cupcake Jemma on Youtube. The next thing you know it's been three hours and all you've written is one sentence. Oh, and you've thought of another Thing to add, so you have to go back to the beginning again.
This blog post is another distraction too, can't you tell?
Should I interpret my fear as a sign not to write? Of course not! I love this story, these characters and the little world I've built. I love it too much not to share it with the world. I have to stop thinking about possibilities, and who would read it, marketability or whatever. That's not why I wrote this.
I wrote this because I love the Impressionists. Because I was enchanted by Paris. And because I love croissants and pain au chocolat.
I always tell people that their stories are too unique not to be told. I have to remind myself of this advice. No more thinking about what its supposed to be--highbrow literature, a series (snort), fun, light romance, whatever.
Just write. the. damn. story.
I can think about the other things later.