Tomorrow’s Battles

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 | The Writing Life | 3 Comments

A friend of mine told me that I can not fight tomorrow’s battles today. As much as I may want to.

Now a writer does not fight literal battles, of course, but there are battles with my own prose, battles to develop a clear and well arcing story, battles to get the word out about my novels in the months before and after they come out. Some of these battles are fought only with myself, as I face my fears and leap into the Void. Sometimes it is a hard fight even to face the Void, much less leap.

But as my friend said, I can only do what I can, today. Tomorrow does not exist. In some ways, it never will. We are always here, now, doing what we can, fighting the battles that present themselves. We plan for the known battles to come, but we can not fight them now. We can not market our book until it is finished, we can not plan for advertising and blog tours until everything is in place. Sometimes, today’s battle is simply to wait, to be patient, and to let not just the past, but the future, go.

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Sending the Manuscript Off

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 | The Writing Life | 2 Comments

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I know I am not alone in this. We writers slave over our manuscripts, our babies, until they are as perfect as we can make them. We give them to writing groups, to critique partners, to beta readers, and sometimes even to a freelance editor. And finally the day comes when we put them in the mail, or these days, in an e-mail to our agent or our editor. Some of us are still shopping for the right agent. Others have found their agent and are sending their manuscript to their editor for the first time. But sending the book out for the first time is always a daunting prospect, no matter who is waiting to receive it.

One thing I learned early on in my work as a writer is that fear is my friend. Every time I stand on a precipice, ready to take a plunge, a leap into the Void, I feel it. The thrill of fear that is almost an exhilaration, the knowledge that no matter what happens, for good or bad, my life as of this moment is changing.

Even now, with two book published and one book in edits, I still feel that way. That exhilaration of flying, that fear of crashing, but overriding both, the knowledge that, as a writer, I really don’t have a choice. My characters choose me, not the other way around. They bring their stories and I work hard to make them the best books I can. And when the time comes for my work to go out into the world, I feel the same fear of failure, the same elation. It is a good thing to leap into the Void. All the best things in my life have come to me because of taking that leap. As writers and artists, we live with that leap for good or ill, over and over again, for as long as we put pen to paper. That leap is worth it, despite the fear that comes with it. Each time, we close our eyes, and jump.

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Following the Stream of Thought

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 | The Writing Life | 3 Comments

Where do the streams of our work lead us? Where do they come from, and where are they going?

These are truly random questions, drawn from the myriad of random thoughts that are flowing through my mind today. They are questions without answers, as all the best questions are.

I do not know where my work comes from, or where it is taking me. That is part of the joy of the journey: not knowing. Always following the stream of consciousness that leads to the next story, to the next character, to the next world that has yet to be born.

I love following that stream. I have been doing it all my life, during all the years when I wrote only for myself and my Muse. Now that I write novels for others to read, I  do it still. There is music in the stream that leads me onward. I can’t see where the stream will end, if it ever will. I follow it through dark forests, through deserts where the stream dries to a trickle.  I follow the stream of my thoughts, the stream that runs through my life, knowing that I will find the next character along its banks. Another world to enter, another life, another story to tell.

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Juggling Worlds: A Fiction Writer’s Adventure

Friday, December 16th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 5 Comments

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This week I have had the pleasure of living in two worlds: the world of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the world of Regency England. As I write the Regency romance series Shakespeare in Love for Sourcebooks, I find myself immersed daily in a past that I have visited often as a reader, but only now have come to live in as a writer. I have been exploring the challenges of bringing Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew to life in a new way and in a new setting, this time in Regency England just after Bonaparte has been defeated and my hero returns from the war. Anthony Carrington comes home to an arranged marriage to a woman he likely would have never chosen for himself.  Caroline Montague, the daughter of his commanding officer, will be left penniless and alone upon her father’s death if Anthony does not marry her. He agrees to take her on, in spite of her wild ways, and a great deal of Shakespearean fun ensues.

Of course, in his efforts to control and dominate his bride, Anthony does not resort to starvation as Petruchio does in The Taming of the Shrew. And Caroline does not conform to her husband’s demands, but struggles to be accepted as an equal, something unheard of at the time. So needless to say, I am having a ball mediating between these two, knowing always that true love will triumph in the end. One of the wonderful blessings of romance.

The second world I have been living in is, of course, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s. True love does not win in Eleanor’s world, and power, the by word of Eleanor’s life,  is almost always elusive. This week I had the pleasure of answering questions about Eleanor and her world for RT Book Reviews. Thinking of Eleanor and reminding myself of all the reasons I adore her, why others adore her as well, is always a joy, and no more so than when people ask me about her. She is an amazing woman with more facets than we fiction writers will ever fully explore.

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It is always a joy to move between the worlds of my fiction, to explore my characters’ lives and to take part in their adventures. And there are always more stories shimmering on the horizon, along the edge of the ocean of imagination on which I sail. I look forward always to the next port, the next elusive shore on which I will wash up, only to discover the next story that is waiting to be told.

I have said it before, and no doubt I will say it again. I am a lucky woman indeed.

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Giving A Gift

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 | Gratitude, The Writing Life | 2 Comments

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As I wrap presents for my loved ones for Christmas, I find myself musing on the beauty of gift giving. There is a wonderful feeling of joy that comes from preparing a gift for a friend, choosing it, wrapping it, and then the pleasure of watching them open it in front of you.

Writing a novel, revising it in the last pass, is a bit like that. Though I don’t know many of my readers, I work hard to hone my craft and my plot for them, I make sure my characters’ voices are clear and lucid, I make the book the best I can.

Finishing a novel is something like preparing a gift for a friend you will never meet. Writing a book is putting together ship in a bottle, and sending it out onto the waves, hoping that the bottle won’t break, that the waves will be kind, that your ship will wash up whole on another shore.

I am grateful for being able build that ship. The act of creation is a gift, too, and I am happy to receive it.

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