One of theses days, I should probably change my desktop wallpaper. Taking bi-weekly (as in two per week, not one every two weeks; they really are new pictures every time) deskscapes allows me to notice things like that. I like this wallpaper, but it’s been up for a while, and if the whole point of taking deskscapes in the first place is to get a shot of where I am working today, but today looks nearly identical to two days ago, that could arguably be defeating the purpose. I like this wallpaper. I like it a lot; wise words in that image, and it fits my aesthetic. I have my open planner on the desk, so the actual date is clear…if one zooms in…okay, and reads Dutch. Housemate did once ask me, in a worried voice, if the big “woe” at the top of my planner page was my mental state. It was not. I write the days of the week in Dutch. Months, too, but they’re pretty close. We’re almost at October, so maybe Abbie and Ichabod can come back for the season. I may need to start scheduling desktop changes. If it’s in the schedule, I’m more likely to do it.
Which is where my initial blabbering turns into actual blogging. Since I’ve been moving my target date for handing A Heart Most Errant over to beta readers, I’ve been looking at exactly what needs to get done, when it can be done, and how much time this is realistically going to take, along with continuing the restructure of the end-of-the-middle part of Her Last First Kiss‘s second draft and the ball for Drama King having landed firmly in my court. Which begs the question, what the heck am I doing?
Well, writing, duh. Obviously. That much is pretty clear. Working on three books at different stages means juggling a lot of balls, and the odd chainsaw thrown into the mix at any given time. So why was this the good decision? I have no answer for that. It happened. That moment when “hey, spiff that old novella and give it another chance at life” idea was not something I’d expected, and I will admit that part of the delay is that the idea is kind of scary.
The last time I pitched this story was to one of the bigger name agents, who read snippets of my own work back to me, and told me she would totally read this book for pleasure, but that she couldn’t sell a medieval in this (at the time) current market. My choices were, as she saw them:
- Trunk the book and forget it, period. (Not an option.)
- Publish independently. (She seemed keenest on this one.)
- Hold onto it until the market changes, and medieval are more marketable. (Not even going to try to predict when this would be, but medieval fans are loyal.)
I hadn’t thought too hard about writing medieval romance until the ideas of medieval and post-apocalpytic romance getting together and making book babies came around, even though I’d been reading medieval for years. The idea came when it came. I did not go looking for it.
Same with my current historical home in the eighteenth century. If I had to pinpoint a moment when that turned into a thing, I would be hard-pressed. I lived the first ten years of my life in a town the British burned to the ground during the American Revolution, so the eighteenth century was literally all around me as a wee little princess, and the big one-oh for me was also the big two-oh=oh for the entire country. As for the British part, our closest neighbors for the first years of my life were Scots immigrants, and my mom’s best friend was a British ex-pat. I sometimes spell certain words with extra u’s, because I was used to that from an early age.
One moment, though? If I had to pick, as in if the life of a loved one were in danger, I would have to say that would be the walk from my dorm to the Marcus Garvey lounge on the Wesleyan campus, during my summer at Center For Creative Youth. Do not ask me what the subject of the day’s class was, because I have no idea, but that’s where those of us on the writing track reported after breakfast. I want to say we’d had something to do with eighteenth century literature, maybe poetry, the day before, and the rhythm of the language was in my head, and characters started talking that way.
First thought: that’s weird that they’re talking that way. Second thought: it’s weirder that this is totally comfortable. I did not immediately begin writing Georgian romance after that. We are not going to discuss the time I tried to write a Regency. Key word is tried. Something clicked, then, or maybe planted itself is a more accurate term, but I remember that feeling, and I recognized it again, this morning. Today was laundry day, which meant laundromat reading time. Which usually means Kindle, but mine was at home, charging, and I had the Kindle app on my phone. I’d loaded Be Not Afraid, by Alyssa Cole, and, within seconds of reading the first page, bam. There it was.
Yes. This. That instant feeling of not reading a historical romance novel, but actively being in the story, firmly grounded in time and place, inside the skin of a character as real and alive as the people I can reach out and touch. Thankfully, none of the reach out and touch kinds of people were in the laundromat at that time, but it reminded me why I’m doing this. Writing, that is, not laundry. I know why I do laundry.
It’s that feeling, that instant transportation to another time and another place. That feeling is, and always has been, my happy place, or one of them, and if I can bring that to somebody else, then I will consider it a job well done. I like a lot of historical eras, so I’m not ruling any of them out. I will probably wander like the temporal nomad I am, but setting down and making camp for a while, well, I like that fine. That, I can do.