Romancing the Novel
My husband likes the book, so that's good. He's even reading other romance books to research the genre. Or so he says.
Also, my mother in law likes it, which means a lot because she reads several romance novels a year.
But they are relatives.
I once had my mom read an article I wrote about a library meeting and she said, "I laughed. I cried. When is the movie coming out?"
So family members are not the toughest critics.
A few nights ago, on the other hand, I went to a critique group, and let's just say they weren't feeling the love. In fact, a few times, they were laughing because my story was so bad. They said they weren't laughing at my book, but I've got news for you, if someone says, "I'm not laughing at blank," they're laughing at blank. I might not know how to write a book, but I've been to junior high and have a doctorate in being laughed at.
But as they gave me pointers, I started laughing, too. I felt like saying Simon Cowell comments to my own book. It needs a lot of work.
For instance, here was one suggestion: Don't have the heroine describe herself as being beautiful. That sounds vain. Also, don't have her recap the compliments others have given her in the past. Another tell tale sign of vanity.
You know, the sorts of things that might have occurred to me if, I don't know, my head wasn't stuck in my ass.
So it's fixable.
But driving home, I couldn't help but ask myself how much time I was going to spend on this gamble. Writing takes time. Revising takes even more time. I knew I'd have to revise...but not rewrite the whole book. And the bad news is, a lot of people write and revise three or more books before even getting anything published.
I realized, maybe writing a romance novel isn't the best career move in the world. It's not cost effective, as we say in business. Maybe I need to get a haircut and get a real job.
All my children will be in school next year. I'm referring to my sons, of course, not the soap opera. I have to decide, can I keep up this freelance writing gig?
Now typically, when the going gets tough, I cry. But that night, "You're So Vain" was playing on the radio, which happens to be my favorite song, even though I've never met anyone who I thought was vain. (Except for the heroine in my book!) Maybe I don't have vaindar.
As this was playing, I thought of the people who've led me to my career as a writer: my kids. They are why I've stayed home and freelanced, as disastrous as that has sometimes been. And they've taught me that when the going gets tough, you don't have to be tough. You just have to keep trying.
I think of Richie learning his ABCs in one week after getting a bad report card.
And I think of Johnny, starting off first grade feeling like he didn't have any friends. And now he considers himself to be one of the most popular boys in the class. Wait a second, am I detecting something on the Doppler vaindar? Oh, who cares? At least he's self-confident.
Then I think of J.J. He acted like a neanderthal at the beginning of the year. And now he's saying, "Peas" and "Tankoo."
They've taught me that things do get better. You just have to stick with it.
Maybe Justin and his mom like the manuscript because they see it as a diamond in the rough. Or a cubic zirconium in the rough. Or at least a pair of those birthstone earrings kids buy at the dime store for $3.50. Well, I never bought them because then I couldn't have afforded seven Kit Kat bars. But I thought about purchasing the jewelry several times.
So I've been tinkering here and there with the book. Just kidding. I've been obsessively making changes to every chapter morning and night. I hardly even watch T.V. anymore if that's any indication of how out of hand this has gotten.
I hope to sell my first manuscript. Not the second or third. Maybe it's vain to think I can. Maybe my hat is strategically dipped below one eye. Maybe my scarf it is apricot.
Or maybe I'll just feel really heartbroken when everybody rejects the manuscript and all my hard work goes down the toilet and I have to start over.
Well, nobody said romance was easy. Like anything worth doing, it takes time. You know, like watching T.V. takes time. And only time will tell if this will work out. If I give up now, how will I ever know?