Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Sixteen days ago I began my 4th NaNoWriMo adventure. I had an idea. I spent countless hours thinking about the characters and the story. My awesome friend Kristi Gold and I brainstormed one night until about 2:00 a.m. I had copious notes about goal, motivation and conflict. As I headed into November 1st, I felt very good about this book, which I have been calling Seduction with Style.

However (isn't there always a however?), as I've struggled through the past two weeks, I came to realize something was very wrong with the 18K words I'd written. I finally pinpointed the problem. The words are a mere recounting of the characters' actions. There’s no emotion, no sizzle, no passion, no tingle, no secksi. Just oodles of blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

And why? I believe I've figured that out too. I haven’t read enough romance in the past two years to stay in touch. I used to read 4 to 6 books a month. In the past year, I've only read 9 romances. NINE! It's not from lack of desire to read them; it's been from inability to focus and concentrate. But that's been getting better lately. Last Saturday I picked up a category romance that I had begun a few months ago and started reading it again. As I read I would see things and think, "I didn't do that in my book and it's a basic element." Things that used to come naturally when I wrote are just not there. I even took a couple pages of notes to remind myself what was missing (like the fact my hero has shockingly blue eyes). The novel-writing part of my brain just isn't firing on all cylinders.

So I’m taking a short break from writing. Last Sunday I bought two category romances and an anthology and have begun reading them with hopes of refilling the well and jumping back into NaNo this weekend. If I catch up and hit 50K by November 30, that’s great. If not, that’s great too. Okay, maybe not. I’ll be upset and feel like I failed. But I will have given it my best shot and that’s all anyone can do. It’s just very difficult to write about happily ever after when your own had a stop date (and FYI, my divorce papers were signed a year ago tomorrow, but who’s keeping track???).

It’s been a difficult time (and do not dare say to me, "You need to just get over it" because until you've walked in these shoes, you have no clue about the devastation to your self-esteem and trust). But I’ve also learned a lot about myself over the past two years. I’m in a better place, I have a strength I never knew I possessed, I am blessed beyond measure with great friends and a supportive family. Yes, I whine from time to time. If you have been divorced, you understand. If not, I hope you never have to go through it. But every time I think I have the crappiest life on earth, I see something that makes me realize I don’t.

Once I hit the publish button for this, I'm going to pile up on the sofa with one of my new books and immerse myself in it.

Writers, do you think it's important to read to keep your writing at its best? And readers, does reading enhance your life?


Maven Linda said...

I'm always astonished, and not in a good way, that anyone would voluntarily put themselves through the stress of NaNo. Of course, I feel the same way about the Iron Man Competition :-).

Sometimes, life has to be about doing what you enjoy. If you want to read, then read, and forget about that guilt thing.

Jean Hovey said...

There's more than one way to work on your writing and it sounds like you've found what is productive for you right now.

If you like NaNo--and I guess you do, though it sounds like hell to me--when you get ready to sit at the keyboard again, just pretend it's still NaNo time.

There. See how easy that was? And how bossy I am?

PM's Mother said...

Stop, cease, halt, desist...why stress yourself for nothing. Will it matter five years from now? I will love you anyway!

PM's Mother said...

PS: I want to share this with you.

The True Meaning of Stress

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'...... she fooled them all... "How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it.If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress.If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced.So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment..Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short.Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've conquered!"

1 * Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker..

5 * If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it..

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can't push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live..

15 * You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

20 * It was I, your friend!

*Save the earth..... It's the only planet with chocolate!

Angel said...

Well, I do believe it is important to fill the well. If its empty, then do whatever you need to in order to fill that thing up. I took an afternoon off from NaNo recently to read a book. It was relaxing and let my brain relax. I also got in bed early a few nights in a row, that helped alot too.

I don't find reading romance refills my romance well, because my imagination does that for me. I get distressed often at work because the women there not only don't read romance, they don't believe in romance at all. Some because of the devastating actions of spouses, some for other reasons I can't quite understand. I SO don't want that for you!

I think one important thing here that you might think about is -- do you still believe in romance? WHY do you want your characters to have that happily ever after? Let your well refill with those things you still believe can happen, and SHOULD happen between two people who LOVE each other.

You did the plotting, the GMC, the this and the that, but did you truly get in touch with the emotions of the characters? I'm going to be bossy here and say, Stop focusing on the mechanics, and look to what you say is missing in your work: the emotional impact of the story.

Stop and FEEL it. :) Sometimes I just close my eyes and try to imagine what the character is feeling in that moment, then the actions, words, etc., start to make since for that character.

Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now. :) Sorry. [and oddly, my verification word is rants -- I have no idea what they're talking about!]

Playground Monitor said...

What does it matter??????????????

Right now I feel that if I can't or don't get back into writing, *he who shall not be named* will have won by killing my creativity.

I think that's good advice, Angel. As I've been reading some romances, I've had thoughts about my characters and have jotted notes about how they feel or should feel about certains events in the story. I do still believe in romance and happily ever after even if it never happens for me again. If I stop believing in romance, what joy is there in life? I want it for my children and my grandchild. So I have to believe it's there.

I'm off to delve into the book I started yesterday. Either that or watch "Harry's Law." ~grin~

Kristi Gold said...

You are divine, Ms. M. And sooo talented. I'm just sorry my suggestion that your hero is an aspiring Sumo wrestler who lives with his mother isn't working for you, but then I was sleep deprived.

Seriously, I've found when I start having problems with a story, I'm not letting the characters feel because I'm too caught up in the plot. Don't be afraid to use your own emotions to project onto your characters. If you're angry, let your heroine be angry. If you're sad, she's allowed to be sad. If you long to know true love, she should long for it as well. Then give her a hero who's flawed yet everything you would hope for in an honorable man. Oh, and a sexy tattoo on that man can't hurt.:)

Hang in there. If you trust your instincts, which you have in spades, it will come to you.

Go M! Go!

Kristi G. (putting down the pom poms and returning to the deadline cave)

PM's Mother said...

Don't let "he who shall not be named" win!