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?