Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Every Stepping Stone by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems

Sometimes the goofiest things will give you something to start with. My friend Nan Reinhardt and her husband are selling the house they've lived in for 35 years. The whole process has been...interesting. In the same way having a colonoscopy is interesting. So, anyway, we were talking this morning, and one more obstacle is out of the path. I said something about "big sigh," as in relief, and she said it was too soon for that. I said--get prepared for something profound here; it doesn't happen to me very often-- "Every stepping stone deserves its own sigh."

When it comes to books, I don't write fast--ever--anymore. Yesterday I had 600 words and called it good. A few days back, I think I had 26. Occasionally I'll get five-to-seven pages in a day and just burst with pride in myself. As someone who used to have 50-page weekends when I worked full time at the day job, this slowing down was hard to accept. I have wondered (and whined about) if it's time to put my novelist shingle in mothballs and stick to my beloved column and blogging.

Like all stepping stones, the ones in a writing career are hard and have a lot of distance between them. They have sharp corners, slick spots, and you stand a good chance of tumbling off into the water when you're only halfway across.

So you stick on Band-Aids, you take care on the slick spots, and you climb back out of the water and keep on walking. You're careful on your journey for a while then. You might try writing to market, to trends, to make your lyrics match the tunes of certain publishers. You skip around between sub-genres, although your heart usually leads you back to the one it lays the greatest claim to. You obsess over covers. Over reviews. Over promotion, promotion, promotion.

But then the day comes when you start that wondering-and-whining thing I mentioned up there. You've written 26 words in too many hours and they're not even particularly good ones. If, like me, you're a person who's always been proud of being productive, it's excruciating to realize that sometimes you're just...not.

I still wonder if it's time, but with the wondering comes a realization.

The thought of not writing books anymore makes me unhappy.

So I've given up being careful on the steps, no longer worried about splashes or sharp edges. Someone doesn't like protagonists in their 40s? Too bad for them. I'm not crazy about my cover? It's okay--I'll like the next one. People are tired of small-town stories? I'm not. My writing's too erotic, too sweet, my prose too purple or too terse, my POV stiffly pure or a little sloppy? Get over it and find another author, but thanks for trying one of my books.

Of course, there's a gasper, too, even in the middle of my hear-me-roar treatise on freedom: Other than a Christmas Town novella, I don't have a contract right this minute and I'm a mostly-trad author who doesn't care to go mostly-indie. I'm afraid I'll never publish another book. However, if I'm honest about it, it's exactly like when I get to that spot in the middle of a manuscript where I know I'll never be able to finish the book. It happens every time.

More stones in the path. Occasionally, I think I can see the other side, but I'll never get there. There are a bunch of old sayings about journeys and destinations, but we all know writing is all journey. We know that, while finishing the books and having them published are wonderful things, it's the writing that counts. It's what makes us happy. One stone, one step, one sigh at a time.

***
Although it's listed (loudly) on Amazon as a "clean romance, NICE TO COME HOME TO is like all the others in the Heartwarming line. Sex is off the page and "language" is a non-starter, but they're still about love and commitment and empowering women and... yes, happily ever after. In case you haven't tried one yet...

Will an apple a day…

Keep love at bay?

For Cass Gentry, coming home to Lake Miniagua, teenage half sister in tow, is bittersweet. But her half of the orchard she inherited awaits, and so does a fresh face—Luke Rossiter, her new business partner. Even though they butt heads in business, they share one key piece of common ground: refusing to ever fall in love again. But as their lives get bigger, that stance doesn’t feel like enough…



23 comments:

  1. We just sold our house of over 22 years so I understand what your friend in going through. And now I am taking baby steps since I retired from 30 plus years of teaching so I can write full time. Some days I don't get any words and other days I get thousands. I like to give myself weekly writing goals so I can use an average.

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    1. Lots of excitement going on there! We've lived in ours 42 years--I'm not sure we'll ever leave it voluntarily.

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  2. Liz, this is so profound. I predict every author who reads this will adopt your stepping stone metaphor. My darling hubby retired and started making noises about my retiring because, fortunately, we don't need the income. I told him, "I don't do it for the money. Writing makes me happy." That is the bottom line every author feel in her soul. If writing—with all its ups and downs—doesn't make you happy, you should find something else to do with your time. So beautifully written, Liz.

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    1. Thanks, Joan. I admit that sometimes the sighs are hard to come by, but so much better than quitting. So much better.

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  3. Hi Liz, enjoyed your blog post. Sometimes, I feel like I'm stuck on the stepping stone and can't get off. And sometimes, I have to close my eyes and leap. It's nice to know you're out there too, writing your way to the end. May you have many more happy endings.

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    1. Thanks, Nora. There are a lot of us out here, and it's nice we have each other to depend on!

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  4. Anyone with any length to their career has pondered exactly what you have, Liz. But not writing is NOT an option for quite a few of us. Beautiful post! Thanks.

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie. When I turned 65, I thought about retiring from writing, but my husband said I'd be 65 whether I retired or not. Made sense to me.

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  5. Love,love, love this. I feel like I've been writing through all seasons of my life, and anticipating the next season. Or stepping stone. So well put.

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen. Anticipation sure has an important place in our game plan, doesn't it?

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  6. You have such a profound way of putting things. Writing isn't a secure endeavor, but like you, it brings me joy. Sometimes words flow and sometimes they don't, but they make me happy.

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    1. Thanks, Judi. You make other people happy, too!

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  7. Loved your post! Sometimes I feel like throwing up my hands and quitting, but there's something about writing that always pulls me back. Writing is like sitting in a garden with words as my flowers. It has the same calming effect.
    And we sold our house of 30 years, moved into the fifth wheel and traveled. We just sold the fifth wheel and are looking at a new adventure. Another deep breath or sigh :) However you want to look at it.

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    1. I envy you some of your adventures! Writing calms me, too. So does just being in my writing place.

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  8. I love this post, Liz! As writers, I think we're compelled to write - whether that's 26 words or 2600 words - in a day. Sometimes, the stories just take a little longer to come out.

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  9. I don't have the patience to be a writer. There's so much planning involved! Not to mention the collaborations with others to get your book published. But I understand the desire...no...need to write! Keep doing what you love!

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  10. Wonderful words. I realized after a major surgery that life comes roaring in to derail a writer and his/her goals. I write because I enjoy it, and I now refuse to be pressured into writing a given number of words each day.

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    1. The 1st time I had general anesthesia, I thought my writing career was over. I had no idea the effect it would have! Hold onto the joy and thanks for coming by.

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  11. Paragraph writing is also a excitement, if you be familiar with afterward you
    can write if not it is difficult to write.

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