Learning process

It is safe to say that I’m doing it wrong.

I can’t tell you the number of happy, unemployed writers who are writing up a storm, who are spending hours a day on their efforts and treating it like a real job. I see them schedule signings and market new books. They post word count that makes me nauseas from jealousy.

I hear about product funnels and how to make a mint by posting serials, and I continue to labor on my second novel.

I have a full time job, a seven year old son, and a husband. Most people might consider that to be three full time jobs.

Unfortunately, I have a powerful need to eat sometime this month. I also like to talk to friends, although unfortunately most of the time I bore them with the same thing I’m writing about here – my life and how my writing fits into it.

Still, I see how my other friends live. Two of them stay at home and manage their domiciles. One of them writes, and I am terrifically jealous of the “free time” she seems like she has. In her perspective though, she chooses to spend this “free time” helping out her brother and sister, both who have several children. She’s doing Very Important Things. And it’s easy for me to say what I’d do with that time, but I’m not in her shoes. My other friend is an artist and a mother. When she does get free time, she has multiple hobbies, which she seems to switch in and out of.

Several other of my writing friends do what I do – work to make money, and write on the side to get started. They’re mothers, they’re wives, and they’re exhausted, like me. And our word counts suck. And our writing groups are tiny, and barely held together by the invisible force of the Internet. Hell, I’ve only had a writing group since March.

But I’m doing it anyway. I’m writing, I’m editing, I’m taking classes, and I’m reading articles. I tweet, post, and network. I try to minimize the Internet stuff, as it eats into my all-important writing and editing time.

I have by no means become rich off my first book. The good news is, I wasn’t expecting to. I really do have high hopes for Bento. Hell, I want it to be a zeitgeist, and I’m in love with it. On the other hand, I’m a novice, with only one book under my belt. I still have so much to learn about marketing and all the things. If Bento becomes my golden goose, so be it. But even if I never made a dollar writing, I would still do it.

I love writing. I’m passionate about getting stories out. And despite the obstacles I’ve mentioned previously, I still make time to write. I go out with my girlfriends and talk plot. I hop onto Hangouts and learn about the publishing world. I listen to podcasts about how to improve my writing skills. And I write.

Maybe in five years there will be articles about me. Maybe my name will sit on the shelf with authors I adore: Gaiman, de Lint, Martin. And maybe there won’t. There are few guarantees in this world, but there are lots of stories.

And maybe, I’m not doing it so wrong after all.

Find the Spot and Hold On Tight

Some of the best writing is some of the hardest to do.

There are times when you are writing and the words are flowing and you think you know how a scene will turn out. You have the goal in mind for the piece and the character arc. Then, when you’re watching the way the story unfolds, you’re looking left, the truck is on your right, and it plows into your proverbial story line and spins you off the freeway of free thinking.

This happened to me recently. I was writing a scene, it was a romance scene between the protagonist and her love interest, and after a courtship where the characters were forced to be restrained, the love interest decided to press some boundaries. Now, I’m not a big romance writer, but relationships make stories go round. However, just before the big fade to black, my stomach lurched and I realized the protagonist was Telling Me Something. The poor love interest chose poorly, and the protagonist felt fear towards his approach instead of lust.

Now, I waited for YEARS for Mulder and Scully to kiss. Years. I hated that ‘never quite the time’ that was the secondary theme of X-Files. I wanted them to kiss. I *needed* them to kiss.

So, here I am, finally getting to a point in the story where the protagonist and the love interest get to consummate their relationship, and the protagonist tells me that somewhere in her history, she’s been hurt before. This wasn’t something I knew about her earlier. And the love interest, through circumstances, has never shown her this side of him before. It’s always been there, but the story arc has forced him to not show that side.

And instead of the sexy sexy, I get the spin away, the wounded look, the “You should go,” and the defeated interest feeling like a monster and wanting to drown his sorrows.

And the wounded protagonist telling me her back story.

This was so hard to write! First of all, I want these characters to get together. I’m a rather impatient person, and I’ve been waiting patiently, all that set up, for this.

Secondly, it deals with a lot of feels. Historical feels, present feels, confused feels, hurt feels. Love Interest isn’t a monster; he just misread his lady’s signs. He actually feels quite bad for his mistake, which he recognized as a mistake very quickly. Protagonist isn’t a tease; she wasn’t expecting her White Knight to be a Bad Boy and the transition scared her. (The reader knows he’s been behaving for her since the beginning, and only just decided to trust her with who he is.)

 This, by the way, is *much* more of what my thought process is now, when I’m writing, as opposed to when I wrote The Corsican. When I wrote The Corsican, I didn’t have character arcs planned out for the characters, I just knew what I wanted to happen in the stories. The two are interdependent, but I didn’t examine them very closely. I am only now learning enough about my craft to be critical about my work. Critical enough, at least, as opposed to before when it was just a challenge getting pen to paper.

Now, to keep finding these moments.