Finding my voice
The first book I ever wrote was a romance novel based on a dream I had where my husband looked the same, but I knew he was a different man. When I woke up I couldn’t get the dream out of my head and so my novel Return to Me was born about widowed Lana who dies and is transported to a parallel universe to be reunited with her husband, only to find him a different man.
I spent three years working on this novel. My dream was that it would be a stand-alone contemporary for Avon. While I was very passionate about the project, very soon the writing process became like work and writing was a struggle. Finally after three years, and numerous drafts based on critiques from my writing group, I realised I was finished.
Now that I had decided that my novel was complete and that it was the best I could make it, the next step was to submit it, however I was suffering a crisis of faith. I wasn’t sure whether my book was any good. I decided that this was my practice book, the one that allowed me to learn the craft of writing, and now it was time to work on something else, but I still always loved the romance genre and had ideas that I wanted to explore.
After watching the way that the genre was transformed and embraced digital publishing I kept thinking about my languishing manuscript. I thought about self publishing it, but wasn’t sure whether it was any good. I re-read it after 10 years and I decided that it had to be kept hidden from the world.
Another year passed and I was doing Nano and after five years of attempting to finish it and reach 50,000 words in a month, I finally did it. On the forum threads I read about publishers seeking Nano novelists to submit their romance novels. I read my manuscript again and while I noticed its flaws, I also noticed its heart. I prevaricated, but finally decided to bite the bullet and submit Return to Me. All the years that I had spent on it had devoid me of any objectivity about its merit.
I sent my manuscript to my agent who submitted it to publishers and soon two offers followed. I decided on Momentum and within a few months my book was out in the world. Now I needed to write my next romance novel and within six months I had a completed manuscript and in July 2014 my second romance novel Hollywood Dreams was published.
It seemed miraculous that I had established a career as a romance author. I think about the 11 years that my manuscript languished in my metaphorical bottom drawer until I finally decided to give it a shot. While I think waiting so long was the right thing for me, I also learnt the most important lesson of all: ‘to submit and get rejected is better than not to have submitted at all.
This post was previously published on AusRomToday.
On writing: Revision bootcamp
Have been having a very relaxed holiday with lots of family time, but now it's getting to the point where real life is intruding and the holiday is ending.
I submitted my second novel to my agent and have just received feedback. Most of the things I actually recognised as problems when completing draft, there's just a point that you get to where it's all about the finish line and you actually get sick of the darn book. So it was good to have a break and develop some perspective while my agent was reading it.
Although I find it so surprising about how each time I have to revise, there is this feel of dread. Even though I love revising my novel and adding layers and depth and making it the best I want it to be, there just this initial feeling of 'where do I begin' that paralyses me. In the end I tricked myself by sitting in front of the television while revising so that it didn't feel like I was really doing work.
So now to finish it and off to the publisher it goes. Can't wait.
I've been in my writing cave for the past few weeks finishing my second romance novel. This book has been so easy to write. I've just had so much fun writing and seeing what my characters do. Each time I sat down to write it felt like I would finish it in a week, but life got in the way.
Been super busy the past six months and then when I had the time, I got terribly ill with a chest infection. By the time I recovered I felt like I'd lost all connection to the book. Thankfully once I re-read it I was back in the groove, and then it did take a week to finish it. It's now with my agent and hopefully going to my publisher soon. Ever since I pressed the send button on that email I've been walking around with a smile.
Now it's time to start my third. Images are swirling and I can't wait to get stuck into it. This is the inspiration for my heroine. Now I have to find a suitable hero!
I'm getting better with my writing process. My first book took three years to complete. My second seven months, so let's see what happens with my third. My goal is to finish by next year as I'm starting a new job so that will take a bit of energy.
In the meantime I'm taking steps to work smarter. I've just started writing with Scrivener and I'm loving it. It's made the writing process so much easier. I'm also going to do some plotting before I write. I still want the process of developing the story to be organic, but I feel like I wandered too far off track with my first draft and so I'm going to take steps not to do that this time. Wish me luck!!!
Finally have some time to really immerse myself in my writing. Have hit 50K on my WIP and know all the scenes to get to the happily ever after, it's just a matter of building plausibility. My theory is that you can make anything work in fiction, as long as you put the work in, so that's where I'm at. Getting my characters from point A to point B with the right emotional balance.
I'm really looking forward to finishing this manuscript, but I'm also looking forward to that magical moment when you print it off and have the pleasure of doing the first read through. My current impediment to being able to finish the draft is a cold that I'm shaking off. So fingers crossed this is the week when I experience good health and lots of writing.
And then the voices went quiet
Have had a frantic couple of weeks. Deadlines are converging and I'm struggling to keep on top of things. Stress levels have been building and in the aftermath I have been left fatigued and out of sorts.
I hadn't written for nearly two weeks and then I went to bed on Saturday night and the voices in my head were quiet. Usually lying in bed is a good time to think about my work in progress. To dwell on their plight and plan ever greater torture to entertain my readers.
But my characters in my work in progress had muted and I was bereft. The thing about writing a novel is if too much time passes between dipping in and you lose the flow. You start forgetting what has come before and getting back into it requires great effort.
I woke the next day and wrote all day. Sometimes in half an hour stretches between errands, other times ten minutes. The voices returned. I was in the flow. I have plotted the third act of the novel. Finishing feels so close I can taste it, but those pesky deadlines are in my way. So for the month of October I just need to ensure I dip in here and there, even if it's to write 500 words. And when I finally clear my plate I can hoe in and finish my book.
Author of Return to Me, Hollywood Dreams and Vintage Dreams. Short story is published in the anthology Little Raven Two by Little Raven Publishing. Pen name for Amra Pajalic.
Mae Archer's books on Goodreads
Return to Me
ratings: 13 (avg rating 3.46)
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
Little Raven Two: An Erotic Collection
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.00)