To you, the unforgotten, the forms and spirits, the mirror’s edge: hello again.
Forty-three days ago I posted here about my struggle with POV for THE SECOND NOVEL. By the next evening I had a glimmer of a new idea. Within a week the glimmer was all thrum and heartbeat and bright lights. I wanted, needed, a side hustle. How about this? Take advantage of the Labor Day weekend (a rare three day affair of no day j.o.b. responsibilities) and start a new writing project that, when finished, could be submitted to a publisher with almost constant open calls? Maybe, Harlequin? Sure. Let’s go. Why the hell not? Worst case scenario: I get in some writing practice while taking a break from the novel that wouldn’t novel.
The glimmer, that initial idea that got me writing, arrived one workday right after lunchtime. I was looking through category descriptions and suggested “like this movie” descriptions of what Harlequin editors were looking for. While doing so, a favorite movie of similar ilk came to mind, one of my favorites if the past ten years. And from that favorite, I took a tiny snippet of the premise and and felt my brain go YES. THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!
That inspiration led to a list of bullet points that led to the first five pages of the story. Now, in all fairness I will confess that the first (unreasonable) goal was to have a rough draft in three weeks, and a complete second draft one week later. [insert hysterical laughter here] So, yeah. I got a handle on something closer to reality around the end of week two: 55k words in 31 days.
This past Monday was my 31 day mark—and I did it! I completed a full manuscript. 55,000+ words with a beginning, middle, end, title, plans for an elaborate chapter break structure … and a third-person limited POV that positively shines. The POV success was such a delightful surprise I got a bit carried away on day two and wrote 16,000 words. By the next night I knew about half those needed to be scrapped because the protagonist was becoming so much more real for me that my initial inspiration just wasn’t fitting. So, I threw away about 8,000 words, give or take, and got to work for real.
For two hours each weekday, and roughly twelve hours each weekend, I worked like a madman over the keyboard. When I woke each morning it was always with the characters’ voices in my head. I didn’t miss a day of the day job (well, a half day once because ALLERGIES), I paid bills, fed the hubby, fed the dogs, cleaned the house once or twice, squeezed in a crying jag one afternoon in response to an awful thing aired on the news that I accidentally overheard because I don’t deliberately listen to the news, and I even mowed the grass——>ALLERGIES, finished reading a novel, and … because the protagonist demanded it, I read scads of poetry on my lunch breaks.
Now, I report all of this to y’all not to brag but to share in the wonder, the absolute shock that this THING happened. Goal achieved. I’ve never done NaNo, my first novel (technically) took nine years to write, and yeah, I’m not the most disciplined person ever. So, wow. If I can to this, what else can I accomplish?
Maybe revise and edit for seven days until I have a nice clean second draft? Submit. Take a week off. Then do it all again.
Why the hell not? As of this moment, I have three pages of editorial notes and the first draft is printing so I can do the red pen thing. Now, you may (or may not) be wondering, why attempt to write a book in thirty-one days for the express purpose to submit to Harlequin? One, I like the description offered of their Special Edition category. Two, from what I’ve read, sending directly to the editors of this imprint gets a bit quicker response that seeking an agent/traditional route results, almost constant open calls exist, and relatively quick payouts happen (side hustle?). Add all that possible goodness to my desire to practice third-person limited POV and character development, and a long ago goal of writing a romance/sizzily sexy story with relatable characters that just happen to have southern accents and an appreciation for good bourbon … Well, the more I thought about the possibilities the more irresistible the idea became.
If you’re not aware, and if you do like the occasional slice of life/romance novel, Harlequin has some decent titles and a slew of past writers that went on to make it big time. Yes, admittedly, some of the novels are worse than terrible. But I really became attracted to the idea of making one of the good ones. After thirty-one days of madness, I’ve got a good story on my hands. And, I’ve got a tiny bit of a premise in mind to steal from another favorite movie for the next project. WHO NEEDS WRITING PROMPTS?
Meanwhile. Remember THE NOVEL? I queried twenty-something agents from June thru July, most of whom required a synopsis and 10 page sample. Last night I got an email from one of those agents requesting the full manuscript. Stunned doesn’t begin to describe how I felt while reading that email. And rereading that email. Bless that agent, for real. So! THE NOVEL is off to be read by an expert in the publishing industry and I am thrilled. Whatever happens from here, I am thrilled.
I want to look back on October 1st & 2nd 2019 someday and be able to count all the positives that came out of a year (almost to the day) of really digging into serious novel writing goals. No more saying someday I will write a novel. Because now, I’ve written two.
So if you don’t hear from me for the next four to six weeks, you’ll know where I am. ❤ #gowrite