This past weekend was my writing group’s annual gathering. It was a great opportunity to share experiences with other romance writers who “get it.” Whether writing historical, contemporary, paranormal, inspirational or some combination, the women (and a few men) who attended all shared something in common.
Writers Get It
Writing can be a frustrating, tedious, nerve-wracking business. Frustrating, because not only do we have to figure out what our stories are about, but we also have to figure out what to do when our characters don’t cooperate with our plans for them. Tedious, because it takes a looong time to write 50,000 or 80,000 or 100,000 words – and that’s just the first draft! Nerve-wracking because all the while we are doing revisions to that thousands-of-words draft, we are wondering if anyone else will like our story.
All of this is a little hard to explain to someone who hasn’t lived it. I’m certain non-writers think we have slipped a nut or two when we talk about characters as though they are real. (Because, let’s face it. A character who has lived in your head for months feels nearly as real as that great-aunt you see each Thanksgiving.) And other people might not understand why we are compelled to spend months writing a story and months submitting it, hoping an editor will want to see more. I suppose it sounds like a form of self-torture, if you look at it from a non-writer’s standpoint.
Writers Are Nice
Romance writers don’t just understand; they are the nicest people I know. The RWA chapter I belong to is now on a biennial conference schedule, so it has been two years since I saw some of the other romance writers. It didn’t matter. We were able to catch up and share experiences as though we all saw each other last week. A young editor who was attending her first conference in the Midwest even commented on how friendly everyone was. It was no surprise to the rest of us at the table. I would feel comfortable seeking advice from any of the multi-published authors at the conference – and I know they would give it.
Go to a Conference
So, if you are an aspiring writer stumbling along by yourself – get yourself to a writing conference. You won’t regret it. And if you are a writer who has attended your share of conferences – I would love to hear your experiences.
Time doesn’t play favorites or make exceptions. Sooner or later, the passage of time catches up with everyone. I was reminded of this on Mother’s Day. My husband and I, along with several siblings and spouses, converged on my mother’s house to do some yard work for her. It was a chance to gather and enjoy the holiday, but it was also a chance to do things an 80+ woman can’t do for herself anymore.
This resulted in my sad observation about the day. Time doesn’t detour around anyone. Nearly my entire life, my mom was known for her enormous flower beds. (Some of you thought I was going to say she’s known for her baking. She is, but that’s a different blog.) I grew up on the farm where she still lives. Large yards meant lots of room for flower beds. After we all grew up and left home, we joked that the flower beds were getting bigger every time we came back.
Now, the reverse is happening. The last few summers, she has been shrinking her flower beds. She can’t handle working outside in hot weather like she used to, and doesn’t have the stamina to maintain them all anymore. Last year, she eliminated a long flower bed which sprawled along one edge of the yard for as long as I can remember. This year, she eliminated a raspberry patch and about half of another huge flower bed which was there forever.
Our biggest task this past weekend was to rip out a large bed of peonies and another large bed of day lilies. I’m not sure how old the lilies were, but the peonies were planted by the farm’s previous owner before my parents moved in 55 years ago. The entwined roots were enormous after all those years; some were 2-3 inches in diameter. A few years ago, my fiercely-independent mother would have been out there with a shovel, trying to dig them up herself. While it’s sad to see her becoming frailer, I’m glad she is smart enough to ask other people to do jobs like that now.
A woman who is turning 84 in a couple weeks has earned the right to expect her children to help her out, and we are happy to do it. But it is sad to realize how much time has slipped past her. I only hope she is able to host us in her home for many more Mother’s Days to come.
Today is an important date for anyone who reads Regency romances. On this date, in 1812, the waltz was first introduced to English society.
Can we have a moment of silence, or perhaps waltz music, to commemorate the event? I think we should. Personally, I like to settle back with a Regency when I am looking for something sweet or amusing to fill a little time or help me de-stress. (Which usually means I need to pull an oldie by Barbara Metzger or someone like her off my keeper shelf, since some of the Regency-labeled stories written today are a bit extreme for my taste, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.)
Anyway, back to the waltz. In my view, this is one of the most iconic parts of Regency stories. Where would we be without waltzes to bring our hero and heroine together? Or a young lady’s angst after being asked to waltz before the patronesses of Almacks gave permission? Much of the important dialogue between the characters at a dance occurs during the relative privacy of a waltz. Plus… it’s a waltz. Is there anything more romantic than two people staring into each other’s eyes as they swirl around a dance floor?
I offer a huge thank you to that long-forgotten person who brought the waltz to England on May 11, 1812. Those of us who love to read historical romances would be missing something lovely if there were no waltzes to enjoy as we romp through a Regency story. So, cue the music, lift a glass of lemonade, and say it with me: Cheers for the waltz!
Two friends shared bad news this week which helped me put my own life in perspective. I was beginning to wonder when I will ever get published with my historical romances. What they shared abruptly ended my pity party.
One of them is getting laid off from her job tomorrow. I know it was a very stressful job and required long hours, so I hope this ends up being a blessing. I am certain she can find something better. Or, she is at an age at which she might decide to simply quit working and retire.
The other woman, who was fortunately persuaded by a friend to opt for a more expensive 3-D mammogram, has a tiny lump. It is very small – a normal mammogram would not have found it – and a lumpectomy and some radiation should hopefully take care of it. It is a blessing the lump was discovered so quickly.
So I guess I received two good reminders this week. First, my life isn’t all that bad. Secondly, we can find blessings even in bad news.
I will support my friends the best I can through their adversities. And I will get my tail back in the chair, to write more and also to start querying again. My life is pretty good as it is. But with a little more work, I know I can get published and make it even better.
Thanks for sharing the ups-and-downs with me. If I forget my many blessings, feel free to remind me.
I write historical romances, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.