People have some odd ideas about writers — ok, admittedly writers can be odd; it probably has to do with all the time we spend puttering around in our own imaginations — especially writers of romance.
I’m a frustrated writer of romance at the moment. My focus has been nonexistent these past few weeks. (It’s called Having A Life.) And somewhere during those weeks, I realized I was bored with my current heroine. She was too young, too innocent, too wimpy, and I didn’t even like her name. All that has now been changed. Including her name.
When I was redesigning my web site, an acquaintance sent me an email suggesting I should put my picture on the home page because I was “an attractive author in this genre, instead of an ugly monster who can only dream up such adventures (common perception of ‘starved-for-romance’ writer)…”
Ugly monsters? Starved for romance? First I laughed, then I became indignant. Finally I decided said acquaintance is a jerk.
‘Jerk’ was one of my mother’s words. She referred to a jerk-like woman as ‘a pill’.
Romance writers are not only subject to strange misperceptions, we get asked silly questions, too. Since I don’t write the kind of love scenes that give rise to ‘do you do your own research?’ ( wink, nudge) I don’t get to answer that one. A pity. I’ve thought some real snappy comebacks.
Then there’s, ‘where do you get your ideas’? The answer is, where do you get yours? Where does anyone? I don’t scour newspapers and the internet or keep a file of interesting articles, though some writers do. Frequently a plot will develop from research I’m doing on a place or time. A snippet of something-or-other that has caught my interest can give rise to a character. Even more often I’ll be doing something mindless like grocery shopping when a notion pops into my head.
I’m a great believer in the beneficial effects of mindless activity. For me, the sure cure for a story snag is wandering around a mall.
‘Do you base your characters on real people’? Very seldom. I’d very much like to meet some of the characters I’ve dreamed up. Rather, I’ve already met them, I know them, but I’d like to encounter them in the flesh. And of course there’s something of me in every story. How could there not be? My revised heroine is irritated. Frustrated. In a very pissy mood. Just as if she wasn’t finding time to work on her current book.
‘Who can you see playing thus-and-so in the movies?’ That’s a popular question here in La-La Land. The answer is, I don’t. The most gorgeous actors in the world couldn’t hold a candle to the images in my mind.
‘Wouldn’t my life make a great story?’ Probably not.
‘If I give you the idea, will you write the story?’ Nope.
‘How long does it take to finish a book?’ (Asked as if discussing a recipe for baking a cake.) Some books are longer than others, some more or less difficult. Completing any one of them takes from the day I write ‘Chapter One’ until the day I write ‘The End’.
And yes I write in longhand. Just because.
Then there’s the especially annoying, ‘I know I could write a great book if only I had enough time.’
None of us have enough time.
Just ask my cranky heroine.
We write great books anyway.