This month, we're talking 'bout endings.
The calendar's down to its last page (thank God!) so it's appropriate, right?
I'd like to tell you about the end of my writing career. (Hold on.... stay with me. It gets better, I promise.)
This post was inspired by Joy Preble's brilliant musings on endings (Thank you, Joy!). I read that post and thought about a dear friend of mine who just this year finished the worst divorce ever. Her sense of relief was eclipsed only by her excitement at getting to start over. Fresh. Clean slate. It may have been the end of a marriage, but for her, it's the beginning of a new life where she gets to steer the car.
And then, I read Kimberly Sabatini's post about knowing your story's ending from your beginning and thought, "Whoa!" This is just so spot on...and so incredibly timely.
Because as I was reading these posts, I wasn't writing. In fact, I haven't written in months. I have no stories left to tell. Or, rather, I have no stories left to sell. (The ones I want to tell aren't marketable, so they sit, alone, on my hard drive.)
I'd just finished up a two-book contract with my publisher, delivering the second completed manuscript back in November. This story is about Callie and Jensen, two teen race car drivers whose feuding families have kept them apart for too many years. Think "Romeo and Juliet" on asphalt.
They hated it.
They didn't like the voice. They didn't like the main characters eloping. They didn't like the short track racing backdrop. They didn't even like the title.
Cue Patty Panic.
You see, I'm not your typical writer, who has a hundred ideas in a file somewhere and not enough time to write them all. I have no ideas. None. I write the idea that's in my head and when that book is over, I am convinced I'll never write again -- at least not until the next idea comes along.
But this time was different. This time, I DID have ideas. Several of them. I have an idea for a romantic suspense in which a city mayor falls for a reporter covering a serial killer's spree, only to discover the mayor himself knows a lot more about this killer than anyone suspected. I call it FOR HIS HONOR.
I really want to write a Some Boys sequel because the main characters, Grace and Ian, still have conflicts to resolve -- top of the list? Grace has not truly healed from her ordeal. I call this one One Girl.
I am a huge fan of the TV show, Supernatural. I wrote a pretty cool ghost story about a teen who inherits his dad's muscle car, a '69 GTO, only to start suffering visions of his dead dad. That was a series pitch. I called this one The Sky Was Scarlet.
But, again -- no interest.
This is the un-glamorous part of publishing. The business part. You've got a few novels under your belt... even an award or two. A brand gets built... and then you discover that's all people want to see from you. Meanwhile, you're sitting in front of your keyboard, wondering how many rape culture or internet issues books can you write?
So...I panicked. I had NOTHING left. I'd reached the end.
That's when my agent and my editor arranged a conference call. They told me what's working and what's not. They told me what I'm good at -- and it's surprising to hear, because of course, I think I suck at those very same things. They spend hours on the phone, brainstorming character ideas, plot elements, even a title.
And I hung up the phone and suddenly, I'm sitting in front of the keyboard again at page one.
The end is now another beginning. It's more rape culture and internet issues and all the stuff I write best.
I'm calling this one Boys Will Be Boys.
I can't promise there won't be another Patty Panic Party. (There always is.) But the writing career ain't over yet.
From my family to yours, I wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy 2017 and joy-filled holiday season.