The Anti Romance
When I wrote my first novel, The Mailbox, I had two things going for me: 1) I had a unique hook that had never been done before and 2) I was writing a love story. Who doesn't love a good love story? I could count on my readers getting caught up in the mystique of the mailbox and the romance of the main characters. My thought was that if those two things were done right, then the reader wouldn't necessarily notice if the writing was bad.
It seems my plan worked because then I got asked to write another novel. (Insert maniacal laughter here.)
But there was just one problem with that. My second novel was neither based on a mysterious place that no one had written about nor was it a love story. Instead, it was more of an anti-love story. My second novel-- which released on June 1-- is actually a story about an affair that negatively affects the lives of several people. Not necessarily those warm fuzzy lovey dovey feelings I got to hide behind last time. This story is about some ugly stuff, some unpleasantness.
And the worst part was, I couldn't hide behind my little tricks this time. It seemed the writing was going to have to matter.
So I did what any writer would do once I realized this. I calmly and rationally went to my husband and asked him if it was possible to give the publisher back the advance I'd been given. I begged him to-- just this once-- let me quit.
He smiled, reminded me we have six children and any money that comes near our house gets spent immediately. Then he did what my dad used to do when I would fall off one of our horses. He smiled, told me to get back on, and ride home. No matter how scary that idea seemed at the time.
The good news is, after tears, grumbling and just a few panic attacks, I tackled the edits. I made the writing better, at least to the best of my ability. I called on my excellent editor and some good writing buddies for input and moral support. And prayer. Lots of prayer. And in the process I found that even the anti-romance could appeal to a reader.
Will I stay with these anti-romance stories? Well, I'm already back to writing a love story. What can I say? My heart is drawn to them. But I'm not afraid of anti-romances anymore. I know that writing the serious stuff, the unpleasant things, can be a powerful exercise for a writer. If you can take something people don't really want to dwell on and make them think about it in a whole new way then you've accomplished something as a writer. I might not write an anti-romance next, but I've got some ideas for some in the future. I like pushing myself as a writer. Turns out, it's a good thing to do.
NEXT WEEK I WILL NOT BE FOLLOWING MY REGULAR BLOGGING SCHEDULE. IN HONOR OF MY BOOK LAUNCHING, I AM DEVOTING ONE WEEK TO POSTING ABOUT THE BOOK. I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME IN CELEBRATING THE RELEASE OF MY SECOND NOVEL!!