Last June I had one of those story ideas that make one all warm and tingly. My agent gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up and we brainstromed ways to make the story better. I threw myself into the story, finished a first draft, and then polished those all-important first 50 pages. Both my chapter, The Beau Monde, and my writing group, the LaLa’s, offered ample opportunities to exchange pages. I collected all sorts of advice while having the chance to read marvelous partials (All of them were good but I’m specifically looking at you Sarah Tormey, Anke Fontaine & Miranda Laisson)!
Heart-in-throat, I mailed off my GH entry in November.
The book was finished, yes, but I wasn’t happy. There was something off in the middle…one of those nebulous problems that garner editor/agent responses like “it just didn’t grab me” or “I wasn’t quite satisfied.”
I set a time frame of one month to fix the problem. December came…December went. Discomfort. January came…January went. Panic.
Then, my lovely, talented friend Inara Scott hosted a writer’s retreat. In a quiet place by a lake five women collaged, cooked, hiked, typed, plotted and laughed. There was wine. There was crisp air. There was a wood stove that smelled divine. Most importantly, there were 4 other women willing to talk openly and honestly about their journey, their triumphs, their fears and their frustrations.
I was not alone. All that stood between me and a ‘the end’ that made me happy was determination.
I came home, focused and started typing. After six weeks of daily work (thank you for those check-in’s Sally MacKenzie), I was 2/3 of the way there…but the GH calls were only 4 days away. I had, I estimated, 80 pages between me and my second ‘the end.’
I’ve entered the contest before. At three pm on call days past, I’ve drunk the cocktail that is one part happiness for friends who finaled, two parts despair and a splash of get back to work. That is one potent cocktail and the only thing I could think of to ensure the drink didn’t break my stride was to finish. Again. Final push: 20 pages a day, 4 days in a row.
I finished in the wee hours of Monday morning and collapsed into bed. At nine am, I woke up, checked the time, groaned and slumped back into my pillow (We both work from home. Our days end late and start late). At 9:17 I heard the Iphone jingle. I picked up the phone.
“Texas?!” I hit my husband. “Oh. My. God.”
“Answer,” replied my helpful spouse.
Ah. Yes. Right.
I did. It was Julia London. Fan girl squee. Julia freaking London. She said things. I said things. This sounds like a bad day on a first rough draft because I honestly cannot remember.
I hung up the phone, fell back into my pillow and cried. I thought of my Beau Monde sisters. I thought of my La La sisters. I thought of the ladies on that February retreat. I thought of my actual sisters and all the people who have been so supportive for so very long. I thought of RWA and how the romance writing world has given me friends and support and courage and knowledge and strength.
I was indebted. I was grateful. I was weepy.
I still am.