My dream of having a romance novel published is still that... a dream. I have two great writing friends (one of whom has been a close friend for years and was a work colleague in a previous life) who are striving ahead beautifully. The old friend has had a full manuscript requested by Harlequin and is frantically keeping her fingers crossed. No need to be so nervous, I tell her. Her writing is absolutely wonderful. I wish I could write that well. And the other friend, the newer writing buddy has also had a manuscript requested. Her writing is very powerfully evocative, so much so that when I'm reading encounters between the hero and heroine, I feel weak in the knees - as if I was there. Her request for a full manuscript came about as part of finalling in a writing competition, not through submission, which shows there are several ways to 'get there'.
Either way, their journey has begun in earnest, and I hope to soon join them. Every day, when I check out my letterbox, I expect to see the Harlequin letter sitting there. It's giving me mail anxiety, let me tell you! And it's hard to believe it could be good news, but a dream doesn't stay alive without positive thinking.
Still, positive thinking doesn't write books. At the moment I'm writing the third chapter of my current manuscript. I've veered off the track of my usual Harlequin line: Harlequin Romance (Sweet, here in Australia), by tackling a new line: Harlequin Everlasting Love. These novels are slightly longer than the usual 55,000 word Sweets, and follow the 'history' of a romance - think 'The Notebook'. This manuscript is my first novel ever written, which I just kind of shelved. I knew I didn't have the experience and skill to tell the story the way it ought to be told. It's amazing coming back to it now, after three years and finding half of it is redundant. There is so much that isn't central to the story, or to be more precise, so much that doesn't move the story along. There are minor characters that wouldn't be missed if cut, so of course I've cut them, along with the subplots that would do well in a long-running soapie, but have no place in a 75,000 word novel.
So, I take heart in what I've learned and keep at it. Amazingly, my desire to write has only grown. The pleasure I take in it is quite addictive. Most nights I sit at my laptop fiddling - or scribbling - to my heart's content.
Tonight I have to fix the part where my hero and heroine meet again (after 18 years). I have to approach the scene with more courage. When I first wrote it, a couple of nights ago, I just had my heroine running away! She just ran out of the crowded room (an art gallery exhibition) into the night. Imagine that! I am such a coward. It was only later that I realised how I was dodging the conflict that makes novels great. Of course they have to talk, I told myself. But what are they going to say to each other? What can they say after all that time? Their history wasn't a happy one (they had a teenage love affair with dire consequences), so they both would like to avoid stirring up the broken pieces they left behind. So much to convey, and so difficult to do it just the right way...