So what next, while I wait on rejections letters and an editor-for-hire's feedback?
Do I start a new book, or finish the third one? Or do I take a break and learn web design ... something I've wanted to do for ages?
The trouble is I don't love web design. I love writing. I like sitting here with my thoughts and when they're coming quick and lovely, I get lost in the sound of my fingers on the keyboards. No doubt I haven't approached this writing thing the way many before me likely have. I've no real training. I do my research, think through my characters, plot out a timeline or sketch the rooms in their house. I do all this so that I don't get derailed by details when the muse strikes (even that sounds corny, I know). But when the movie starts playing in my head and I have to write it down.
I think my problem with whether or not to finish book three comes down to the genre. It's actually the second book I was working on but when I told my friend Lisa, in Dublin, my idea for a third book, which she told me to immediately begin work on. I listened to Lisa, but it left book number two hanging in the breeze.
Book number one was a labor of love. It was meant to be a somewhat easy, breezy book you could take on vacation at the beach. It was a love letter to my late sister, if I'm honest.
Book two was meant to be more of a straight romance. Not a bodice ripper or a historical romance, but a contemporary romance based on my experiences with a British pen pal. The first half was coming along pretty well until I dropped it like a hot potato, so it will take some serious thought to finish it up.
The third book is more literary fiction. It has a female main character with a strong voice and I've found that's what I really want to write. All my books will no doubt have a romantic element, because that's part of life, but I don't think I want to write straight up romance novels.
Thus, my dilemma. Do I go back to the romance novel and finish it in the spirit of "finishing what you've begun", or do I move on?
I hope to go to a writers' conference in St. Simons this summer for a few days. It's the same conference where first book won the novel award all those years ago. I'll see what kind of feedback I get on the new book.
Just writing this all down has helped my brain formulate a possible course of action.
After leaving a book alone for a while, you need to go back and read it again, to get yourself back in that voice and mindset. I think I'll do that and see if maybe, just maybe, I can find a way to elevate that book beyond merely a romance. It will be a challenge, no doubt about it, but one I think I'm up for.
I feel so grateful that I stumbled upon writing at this point in my life. In the last few years it's given me a great deal of joy and I've met so many great people who are pursuing the same dream. I know a lot of folks who are self publishing and having a good bit of luck with it. For me, for now, I'm going to try the traditional route. I'll just keep my nose to the grindstone and keep trying to improve. Thank God for good friends on this journey, and good editors. As always, I'm looking forward to the next chapter.