Rambly Ramblings on Writing, Reading and Feeling Like a Unicorn

“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”
David Levithan, The Lover’s Dictionary

Not sure what I want to talk about today, so you’re going to get a freeform ramble, and I am going to trust that I am going to make some sort of sense by the time I’m done. This has been not exactly a domestic tornado day, but it has been a day with a full house, interrupted by Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate heading out a deux on a grocery run. Insert Rant of the Lonely Extrovert here, because even though grocery shopping with the whole household (minus Skye, who stays home because she is smart and also a kitty) can make me crabby at best and anxious at worst, it’s still out of the house and being around people. Alas, being sun-sensitive won out, because it is blindingly bright out there for those of us (aka me) who are pale and not suited to summer, so I am rambling from my favorite seat at the coffee house down the block from our own abode. It’s nice and dark here, within the exposed brick walls, I have an iced smoky chai in front of me, am functioning remarkably well for someone who has been Mentos-free for over a week and it’s time to take a look at the week ahead and what I am going to do with it, writing wise.

At the moment, I’m at the “staring at the twenty-foot high blank white wall” stage, which is not at all uncommon for a Monday, and I know that it does, indeed pass, so not going to stress about that. Note to self: writing about things that do not bother me all that much does not make for sinctillating interesting reading. If I am making myself yawn reading it, then it’s probably going to elicit the same response from readers. Which is not at all what a writer of commercial fiction wants, by any stretch of the imagination.

Had a train of thought there, but lost it. I hate when that happens. I am going to blame the upset to routine. My ideal method of attack is to make a list over breakfast, prioritize, then do all the things, crossing them off as I go. That did not happen today, and I am feeling the lack. I am also feeling vaguely unsettled that three passes through the main library’s romance section did not yield anything I had to take home with me right that second, but I was able to cull an armful of fresh voices and intriguing situations from the YA shelves in a matter of minutes. Under one, actually. I wasn’t counting. After devouring the realm of possibility and, earlier, How They Met, and Other Stories, both by David Levithan, which were a master course in romance (even if some of those romances don’t end well) and emotion, I had decided I’m going to have to devour everything he’s ever written and see what I can mine from it. If this guy can tell a love story entirely through dictionary entries, that definitely counts as innovation.

That innovation was what I found myself hungry for when I scoured the romance shelves. Historical romance is still my genre. It’s still what I love to read most, and what I love to write, and, at the moment, it has me somewhat itchy. Not sure what this is, but acknowledging this itchiness is important. Today, looking at the shelves, I saw, with the exception of older titles, almost exclusively series. I get the popularity there, I really do. There’s a built in following for many writers that way and many readers like the comfort of returning to a known community with familiar characters and such. I do follow some series, but not because they are series. There has to be something else. When I write, I naturally think in standalones, which can make me feel, at times, like a unicorn.

I see a lot of Regency settings. I’ve tried to write Regency. It did not end well, for anybody involved. My critique partner, Vicki, summed it up best. “You hate writing Regency.” She’s pretty smart that way. I do. Perfectly fine historical era, but where other writers get excited about Almack’s and, um, Empire waists, I get nothing. Dial things back a couple of decades to the Georgian era (yes, yes, I know, the Georgian era technically goes up to the coronation of Queen Victoria, but my blog, my rules) and we’re talking a whole different story. Wigs, high heels, embroidered satin, painted fans, makeup that would make Kat VonD jealous, and then there’s the women.

The historical fiction shelves (and boy howdy, do I love that our library system has a special sticker for book spines to designate historical fiction) get my interest from time to time, but my problem there, and I do love historical settings best of all -plop me down anywhere from the end of the Wars of the Roses to the end of the American Revolution and I am one happy camper- is that fictionalized biographies are a very hard sell for me. (Unless the topic is Anne Bonny, in which case, give, and back away slowly, mama’s reading) I’d rather read about original characters living in that world than the actual figures, though the actual figures can serve in supporting roles. I saw a few titles that looked mildly interesting, and I do know that some older historical romances of a few decades past have had second lives repackaged as historical fiction, as have some of the authors of such, but…

…that’s where things get unicorny. I want something new, within my favorite genre. Give me one hero and one heroine, in a fully realized historical world, make them people of their time, take me on an adventure and deliver on that big happy ending. Along the way? Carte blanche. (Yes, yes, I know, technically Regency term. Refer above; my blog, my rules.) The best way to make that happen, I know, is to write it myself, and I’m working on it, but there are days when I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to stab things with my sparkly horn for a while.

This may have been one of them, but that’s where the discipline of routine comes in. Monday’s post goes up on Monday. So, here it is. It’s okay if I ramble, because rambling will take me somewhere that stewing will not (and also, I hate cooked carrots, which stews often contain.) I don’t think I’m done yet, but I do have a date with my plotting board and some sticky notes, so wrapping things for now. See you Wednesday,

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