Rediscovering Imagination, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:23am

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Right after I finish this blog post, I’m going to upload a PDF of my in-process second novel to a service that will send it out to three “beta” readers. In other words, three people who like this kind of book and don’t know me in the slightest will read it. They will then give feedback, which I will read. Then I will know more than I know now.

I have “finished” two novels. Hilarious. Because what is “finished?” For my first novel, finished meant I wrote it, friends read it, I edited it, got into a critique group, edited it again, queried ~25 agents, and realized that the concept and plot just weren’t commercial enough. I put it on the shelf. For now.

For this second novel, it means two things. First, I have done all the writing and editing I can without guidance from the outside world. My critique partners have been invaluable. Second, I believe I’m ready to query again. The beta reading service will give me a checkpoint and I’m gleeful. As I know that the feedback from strangers may break my bubble, I’m enjoying this feeling while it lasts.

Having already buried the lede, let’s unearth it. My second novel is an upmarket romance, also known as women’s fiction with romance elements. A woman widowed by Alzheimer’s has to take a holiday job at an upscale home store to make ends meet.  She meets a brilliant, oddly-formal Russian millionaire, trying to help him with a pressure cooker. As all romances ask, can they/can’t they make love work?

I was trying to think of other processes like writing fiction. Rewarding, but nearly impossible. I guess it’s easier than having your first newborn, but harder than traveling alone for three months in India? Now that’s what I call calibration.

How can writing fiction be rewarding when I’ve not had anything published? Well you may ask, my friend.

I was an imaginative kid. In high school, my English teacher called me an excellent creative writer, but so erratic in analysis as to be no critic at all. College changed that. I made a conscious decision to enter the world of reason, where I remained for 30 years. To re-emerge into story-telling, even those set in a shopping mall, has felt like entering a dark but joyous forest. Treading on pine needles, mists everywhere. I didn’t know I still had it in me.

I made a witches’s scroll when I was 13. It’s in my closet.

So thank you all very much. I’d never have attempted this fiction thing without the long habit of sitting down to write here. The jump from these posts to a Word document with actual chapters was both ridiculous and necessary, and never would have happened without your kind audience. Chapters! My goodness.

Have a wonderful weekend. It maybe worth revisiting that which you gave up.

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