Confessions of a How-To-Write-Romance Junkie by Teresa Blue (Romance Author University)
Pssst. I’ve got a confession. I’ve had a life-long affair with pens and paper, books and…well, men.
So the day I combined them was like emerging from a fog. I remember the moment when the desire to become a writer first hit me. No, it wasn’t during a snowstorm, but a rather dull, quiet time in my life. A time when the voices in my head grew louder and refused to be ignored.
Imagine my relief when I discovered I wasn’t psychotic at all. Nor were the men I dreamed about a subconscious sign of an unhappy marriage. I set about creating those faces I knew so well, experiencing tears and joy along with each character as they overcame their obstacles and found a much deserved happiness.
Sharing the characters that lived in my imagination however, required a lot more nerve. These were fictionalized people that I’d conceived in my head and painstakingly attempted to paint on paper. I polished each character for weeks and months to the best of my ability and then, nervously, sent them out into the world.
Not soon after submitting, the rejections started to fill my mailbox and with them came a growing uncertainty. Maybe I couldn’t write after all, at least not well enough to interest outsiders. So I turned to books, but not for pleasure. This time I was searching for power, for kernels of knowledge, guidance I could use to spin that golden yarn.
Anyone who’s ever searched this topic knows there are literally hundreds of books available on how to write a romance. Intense classes are taught everyday on ways to create three dimensional story people. ‘Dig deeper’ became a common phrase. Find the bones. Give your characters flaws. Develop personalities and conflicts that tug at a reader’s heart strings.
I explored hundreds of blog universities and websites all dedicated to the aspiring writer. I discovered- not mastered, mind you- how to write the perfect opening and the importance of ending every chapter with a hook. I became pretty good at identifying POV and whose voice I should be listening to in any given scene. Notes covered my computer screen, ‘less is more’ and ‘use strong verbs’ ‘patrol for repeat offenders’ and ‘cliché alert!’
The first three to five years into this journey I devoured one ‘How-To’ book after another. Every time I’d hear someone recommend the easiest way to plot your novel, or how to revise and edit the current one, I’d get fidgety. I just knew my manuscript would sell if only I learned what such & such was demonstrating.
But all this research took time. Not to mention the number it did to my self esteem realizing there was still so much I didn’t know. Ten years and I was no closer to learning how to become a writer than when I started. Rarely did I send manuscripts out anymore. It became a struggle to even attempt to devise a scene of bit of dialogue. I judged every line. The word count wasn’t right, or the characters were too edgy. And worse, the requesting editor was no longer there.
The sands of time were piling up and sadly, my fire of writing for publication had started to fade. I knew a manuscript needed to be fresh…original, capable of blowing some unsuspecting editor away with a WOW! In today’s market a manuscript needed to grab the throat of a reader in the first paragraph, better - in the first sentence.
All of this left me feeling very small. My manuscript was far from perfect, not to mention in line with many established authors all competing for that coveted contract. I felt defeated before even starting. In essence, I had become an old horse simply standing on the mark.
My muse had dried up and I experienced a sadness to think I might never have what it takes to be an author. I used the pretense of fine tuning my craft to become a better writer as an excuse not to fail. Overlooking what I knew to be true- that the only way to guarantee failure is to stop trying. What message would I give my family if after many years of struggling to be a writer, I simply quit?
I returned to my WIP I’d left hanging for way too long with a new attitude, to finish that which I had started. I would write the story that only I could tell. Create those characters only seen from my perspective and enjoy the journey armed with the knowledge how lucky I am to know the path I wish to take.
Lastly, it occurred to me…has anyone ever learned to swim without getting in the water? You simply have to get wet.
What’s holding you back?
Tereasa grew up in an old-fashioned hometown that stretched for exactly one block. The summers were scorching and spent on the front porch hoping to catch a breeze. And life seemed to crawl.
She discovered that reading could take her to new places and on exciting adventures. By the time she entered high school, she had sailed the high seas with Captains and rode the English countryside with highwaymen, robbed stages— well, you get the idea, she fell head over heels in love with the romance genre.
Her latest, a romantic suspense, Letters From Inside, available now from Boroughs Publishing Groups. To learn more about Teresa visit her website at www.teresablue.com
Or stop by her blog to get a glimpse of her collectibles at http://tereasa-thingfinder.blogspot.com/
Teresa Blue Author Page