Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paperback Writer

Kurt Cobain: Image Credit
I've always wanted to write paperbacks. Not a Great American Novel, but one of my grandmas' vintage Harlequins I started reading when I was eight. And that's not a typo - both of my grandmas were sneaking me new "trashy romances" every time I came over.

When I hit my teen years, I'd sit down about every six months and start a book. I'd write furiously for a couple of weeks, crank out 30 to 50 pages, and then eventually wander away to learn to play the guitar, try to read every book in the local library fiction section (starting with Z) or moon over pictures of Kurt Cobain on the album cover of The Banks of the Muddy Wishka. In other words, I was easily distracted.

Then I got older, graduated, moved out with a friend, met my future husband, moved in with him, helped raise his daughter, started college, quit college, got married, bought a house, had a son, became a full-time freelance writer, lost the house, got a "real" job, moved to a farm, and had another son. During that 17 years, every six months, I'd pull out one of those old books or begin a new one, write furiously for two weeks, and then wander off to start a new blog, play with my sewing machine or research beekeeping.

I'm creative but I'm also a scatterbrain. Starting last year, I decided I had to learn to focus on things, so I started with reading the Bible daily and I've been doing that now for a year and five months. Next it was a to-do list to keep me focused at work. That's been going strong for over a year. I got better with housework. My dishes are now done mostly every night before bed and I almost never throw one away instead of washing it anymore. And for the last two months, I've quit thinking about writing romances and jumped into finishing one.

Image Credit
My husband actually sparked my re-dedication. One night, we were sitting in front of the TV (him watching and me reading) and he told me to get out. Luckily, he didn't mean forever, and next thing I knew, I had been evicted from the couch (along with my laptop) to the 1965 Yellowstone camper parked behind our garage. I pulled up my favorite of the six or seven partially-finished manuscripts in my Personal Projects file and got to it.

And the camper is magic! There's no noise, except the radio and an occasional squawk from the chicken coop. There's no dirty dishes, either, or laundry to do. Once in a while, there's a mosquito, but I can deal with that. Otherwise, it's just me and the laptop, baby, gettin' things done.

Now, a little over eight weeks later, I'm a member of a professional romance writers group and I'm nearly a third of the way done with Lucky in Love. I originally set daily word count goals but they didn't work and just made me feel unproductive, so I simplified and just said, "Okay, self. Write something every day, whether its five words or an hours-worth of steady typing." And I'm doing good! I'm at 107 pages and counting, and they're clear, well-written and organized pages, too, that are telling an awesome story. It's a sweet feeling.

So, if you can't find me, I'm probably in the camper, trying to be a paperback writer. That's me, waving from the far window on the left.