Hi there. So if you’ve been following the adventure that is My Writing Career, you might already know that I took an involuntary break. My last book, Your New Best Friend, came out in 2017. I was thrilled with it, from the cover to the story to the fact that it earned a Publishers Weekly starred review and was a finalist in the RWA Contemporary Romance Writer’s Stiletto Contest. I was itching to follow it up with my next romcom, which was already percolating in my brain. And then what happened? Life, actually. That little stinker.
Hey, stuff happens. It happens a lot. Authors hope to be able to lock themselves in a garret and blithely compose their next magnum opus, but all too often life-changing events—illness, a death in the family, or a dozen other myriad events that make someone’s life take a sharp, unexpected turn—nuke that lovely vision into oblivion.
I know I’m definitely not unique, and as things go, my drama has been minor compared to what could happen. Still doesn’t make the effort of trying to right the ship any easier, but I did the best I could. And what’s my current frame of mind? Well, as I am nothing if not obsessed with musical theater, cue Lauren Bacall singing that famous song from Applause:
I feel groggy and weary and tragic
Punchy and bleary and fresh out of magic
But alive, but alive, but alive
I feel twitchy and bitchy and manic
Calm and collected and choking with panic
But alive, but alive, but alive
You might be looking for all the tea right about now, and I would love to spin some marvelous tale about sailing around the world on a yacht, or doing a little side gig in Hollywood writing award-winning screenplays, or being dramatically but only superficially maimed by a lion while on safari. Alas, it was none of those things. It was all pretty common, to be honest:
- divorce, blah blah blah (some of you may know about this event already, but wait—there’s more)
- keep teen son together through it all, blah blah blah
- leave the house to the ex and move in with nonagenarian mother who immediately feels comfortable enough in the new living situation to break several bones over the course of a couple of years and then indulges in a spot of pneumonia, blah blah blah
- take care of aunt, also nonagenarian (strong Sicilian peasant stock, our family), bedridden for months with sciatica (I suspect she was jealous her sister was getting all the medical attention), blah blah blah
- hold down two jobs because folks gotta eat or something, blah blah blah
The biggest injustice? I didn’t even lose any weight during all this! Humph! *flounce*
So…yeah. Writing? Kind of…dead last in the hierarchy of familial and personal needs. A little difficult for a while. Not that I stopped or anything. I mean, come on.
As most writers will attest, it’s not whether you want to keep writing or not. Writers’ brains never stop creating. The fun part is when you try to fit everyday life, your new complications, and writing 70,000 to 90,000 (hopefully coherent) words into a regular day, day after day, then slamming those words between two attractive covers and getting that book out to the rest of the world before readers forget who you are.
I have, in the end, succeeded in slamming out the next collection of words—more than 90K of them, in fact. Those words are coherent. (Pretty sure, anyway.) My new manuscript is out in the publishing world, looking for a new home. I honestly do not know how it happened. All I do know is that it took way, way longer than I wanted it to—more than a year, in fact, to put ’em together and into good enough shape that I was even remotely okay with my new story.
That means there’s already a pretty big gap between my last book and my next one and, since it doesn’t have a publisher and/or a release date yet, that chasm is only going to get wider. The time between the two now spans two decades, a thought that makes me twitch. I spoke with the wonderful writing consultant Angela James a few months ago, and she said I’m essentially starting over. Entirely. As if my previous six books had never happened. How fun!
Lucky I’m addicted to this “making up funny love stories for personal enjoyment and hope of, but not expectation of, profit” thing!
So stay tuned and watch this space, because I’ll keep you posted. Uh, but don’t, you know, keep hitting refresh or anything, ’cause this could take a while.