Saturday, March 30, 2019

Stream of Consciousness Part 2: Writing Romance

Earlier in the week I wrote my thought process out as I procrastinated writing. (HERE) It was actually therapeutic to see what I do in a short time span and how it eventually led to writing. I talked to many friends about the post and they said it made them laugh. While that wasn’t my intention, but I’m glad they found the humor in it. I figured today I’d write out what’s going on in my brain as I sit down to write my romance book. It might explain a little about my mindset.

Well, and then there’s Helga. Evil, evil, Helga.

Starbucks envelops me in a hug the minute I walk in. Not literally, of course, but I swear if I was monitoring my heart rate minute by minute from when I was in a parking lot to walking in the door, it would lower drastically upon crossing the threshold.

I’m grateful to see open seating. The parking lot was a mad zone of crazy and I assumed the place was packed. I had forgotten that H&R Block is next door. Tax time, you know. Hope they get a refund.

Opening Twitter upon sitting down was probably a poor choice.

Strike that, definitely a poor choice.

Reading the tweets from @JenReadsRomance was likely a mistake. Let me start with the fact that I love her Twitter feed. I listen to her podcast, Fated Mates with Sarah Maclean, and actually squealed like one of my students in excitement when I heard she was a teacher. She lives in Chicago, so obviously we should be best friends. If you’re looking for romance recommendations, her website is somewhere you must visit ASAP. You can find it HERE.

So today, a few of her tweets got in my head:

First, for my non writer friends, POV = point of view. My thought was immediate panic. I mean I am writing a series where there is a first person POV (female lead) and a third person POV (male lead). I picked that on purpose, but it does not alternate every chapter. Often there is both POV in one chapter, sometimes just one POV. It depends on the scene. So my immediate panic was that I’m a rookie writer, what the hell do I think I’m doing.

Deep breaths.

Then I read this tweet.

Well, hell. This is me. Jen went on to tweet:


So, I don’t do well reading books with too much conflict. It makes my anxiety so much worse. I have frequently described the book(s) I’m attempting to write as Gilmore Girls meet a serious romance book. Or small town romance with a hug. I absolutely believe talking can change people, and that is mirrored in the series I’m attempting to write.

Crap, crap, crap.

So many more tweets made me stop and think. This isn’t to say I don’t love Jen’s Twitter feed. I think she’s brilliant. If you love romance and you are on Twitter, I absolutely recommend following her.

What I’m saying is that sitting down at Starbucks and reading her Twitter feed right before attempting to write was to give that evil witch, Helga, some authority in my head.


Then I went on to scan Twitter. Some of my favorite romance writers were popping up in my Twitter feed this morning. Everytime another one of them came up, Helga’s voice got stronger.

You’ll never write like Courtney Milan.

I growled to Helga, thinking I don’t read historical romance. Shut it, Helga.

She was back, Look, Penny Reid, Kate Canterbary, Kristen Ashley...they write contemporary. You’ll never write like them either.

I rolled my eyes while I continued scanning. Whatever. I love them. I can aspire.

The doubts kept coming.

Should I be rewriting the first book right now instead of moving on to the second?

Did I have enough conflict in the first?

Did I rush the couple together too fast?

What on earth did I think I was doing with the current scene in the second?

Did the vision I had for the characters work?

Why did I want to write anyway? Maybe I should just focus on teaching middle schoolers and reading. So. Much. Easier.

And then I looked to my right. I’m sitting at a communal table at Starbucks. There is a guy to my left typing away. A man and his young son in front of me. His son is super excited about the donut he’s eating. And, over in the armchair section, there is a couple. The guy is in the armchair, the woman is on the footstool, pulled between his knees, her legs draped over his. They’re about my age and apparently we don’t exist in their current reality.

They made me smile.

So does this guy and his son, who just offered his dad some of the donut. His dad’s reply, “No, but thanks for offering.”

A woman just came to the other armchair in the section with her toddler daughter. They have a full spread of deliciousness laid out on the side table. The toddler just gave her an open-mouth kiss on the cheek.

I remember toddler kisses. They are the best. My teenage sons don’t show unabashed love for me like that anymore.

In the corner is an elderly couple holding hands across the table. In line are two women, also holding hands. At a side table are three high school aged girls, all looking at their phones and talking at an amazing speed.

Another woman is sitting alone across the room, looking at her computer and laughing out loud.

I feel like I’m surrounded by love and happiness. It permeates.

And so, I open up my doc and sit down to type. I know I will likely make many rookie mistakes in these books because I am a rookie. Jen’s tweets were also a reminder that my books, whenever they are finally published, won’t be for everyone. I tell my students that all the time, it’s just hard to see that in print - even when not directed at you.

But I’m doing it. I’m writing the stories I want to read and will just hope that someone else will want to read them too, want to read books about people in a small town, falling in love, with quirky characters. Books that come around you and envelop you in a hug, just like Starbucks did for me today.

Because this is what I know, this is what I love.