Writing and Romance, Part Three OR How I Got Back to Writing

So, while I will still stand by my view in my last blog (we’ll call it Part 2) and the one from earlier that shall now be referred to as Part 1, I will amend that having real romance in your life is a big freakin’ perk!

It is.  I guess it had been so long since I had any romance in my life that I forgot how yummy and wonderful it is and how it can make you feel… Silly me.

Recently, my writing was in a slump.  My imaginary friends were giving me the silent treatment.  Not a word… almost like when I was married.  I was a little overwhelmed and confused about a few things.  Then several things happened within a short time span.

First, I was reading a lot of articles about changes in the industry and started rethinking my writing goals.  Second, I read an article by Diana Gabaldon where she said (and I paraphrase) that you should write like no one will ever see it.  That makes sense because then you’re free to let your story be what it is without boxing it in from the get-go and you can be fearless with honest emotion.  Third, I had a conversation with my CP (who’s also one of my best friends) about what was going on and she always, ALWAYS, helps me find clarity in my life and in my writing.

And finally, I met a wonderful man who brings much to my life.  A man that sends me texts.  Nothing earth shattering – just that he is thinking of me.  That is romance, my friends.

When the thought of someone brings a smile to your face – that’s romance.  When you can’t wait to talk about nothing – that’s romance.  Size, shape, age, color, and gender have nothing to do with it. Connection is all that counts.  And, it is a revelation.

The culmination of these events has wrought a change in me and I am a happier, better and more productive writer due to it.

While imagination is good, and getting that feeling vicariously is better, I will now say that the real thing is best.

2012 is going to be a great year… and it is starting off write!


Filed under Creativity/ Inspiration, Life thoughts, Writing in general

I Still Need Romance

A month ago, I wrote that you didn’t need sex in your personal life to write romance and that sex and romance are not the same.  I still stand by that post.  I may not need sex to write romance, but I have found that I do need inspiration or a certain mood.  Recently, I discovered a direct correlation between my writing and my mood.  Seems obvious – right?

“French Kiss”

Not always.  I’ve been watching a lot of TV dramas and fantasy movies.  I’ve been reading a lot of books on writing itself and non-romance fiction.  Guess what?  I haven’t been able to connect to my romance writing.  I need to watch and read romance to feel inspired to write it.  Perhaps if I had real romance in my life that would do it too, but alas.  So, I’m happy to settle for fictional romance to generate that passion.

Remember the movie French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline?  I love that movie.  There’s a scene where he is trying to search her purse while she is asleep and she is dreaming and kisses him and he kisses her back and that is the moment that changes everything for him.  I love that scene.  This is one of the scenes I can watch and find that romantic spark.  I may have mentioned this before 🙂

Tim Daly in “The Outsider”

Another scene that totally gets me there is from a movie called The Outsider based on a book of the same name by Penelope Williamson.  In the movie, it’s when Tim Daly’s character kisses Naomi Watts’ character for the first time.  Wowsa – I never tire of watching that.  He trails his fingers down the string of her bonnet … mmm.  Anyway, the scene in the movie really gets me and when I need to write that kind of passion, I can watch that scene and get that feeling nailed. 

As a sidebar – when I read the novel, which was really good, because I wanted to see how that scene was written, I was disappointed to not find it in the book (or at least not in the same capacity).  I know, I know – movies and books are different beasts and I do not judge them the same.  I was just hoping that I could see how Ms. Williamson wrote that amazing kiss.  I still have the movie to rely on.

“Rough Canvas”

There’s a book (actually lots of books) I can get that yummy ootz in the stomach from too.  Joey W Hill wrote an amazing story (it’s my favorite erotic romance) called Rough Canvas about an artist and the art dealer.  I can read almost any piece from this book and find the heat needed to write. 

The point is while I may not need a man or sex to write romance I still need romance – even if it is fictional.  It helps me focus on the emotion I need to tap into.  It sets my mood and creates my mental ambience. 

What helps you?


Filed under Creativity/ Inspiration, Writing in general

Harry Potter and Characterization

Harry Potter

 I’m so sad.  In my efforts to deny that the Harry Potter movie saga has ended I delayed watching the second half of “Deathly Hollows” for months.  I bought it the day it came out and watched it – finally – I couldn’t delay any further.  But, I was sad.

 I, along with millions, have had a relationship with these books, movies and actors for a decade.  It is truly the end of era (metaphorically).  J.K. Rowling created something special, something that changed our world forever.  Pretty freaking note-worthy, if you ask me.

And how exactly did she and Harry Potter accomplish this?  By being ‘brilliant’. 

 The story is complex and compelling to be sure, but what I think held us all captive for a decade is the characters.  They joined our families, became part of our lives.

 Look at any one of the characters and tell me they aren’t a three dimensional believable person.  Even the really, really minor ones have depth.  No one’s all good or all bad.  Harry may be the best Seeker but he can’t dance.  Ron is completely loyal but even he got jealous and fought with Harry.  Draco doesn’t want to kill Dumbledore, doesn’t really want to be a Death-eater, he just wants to make his dad proud. 

 They have good points and they have flaws.  They have moments of weakness and moments of strength.  They have likes, dislikes, humor, friends, and histories.  They have a rich and varied life that we glimpse gradually throughout the stories. 

 I’m going to pick a side on the character vs plot debate.  Which is more important?  I say character.  Plot is important – it is, yet when I encounter a genius plot, if I don’t have at least one character I love, it makes no difference.  I won’t read/watch.  If, however, there is one or more characters I can love, then the story doesn’t have to have a great plot.  I’ll still read/watch… because I care what happens to those characters.  Rowling had both a great plot and great characters, but I think we love this universe because of the people who inhabit it.   

 As writers, strive to create great characters, but what we should strive for is to create real people, 3D people.  People others can love and root for.  People rich with diversity.  If we can all learn that skill, we will indeed be better writers for it.

1 Comment

Filed under Characterization, The Craft of Writing, Writing in general

Write What You Know OR Are Romance and Sex the Same?

"The Trouble With Romance"

Excuse me while I share a little more than is probably decorous in this blog.  People say, write what you know.  This became a particularly interesting thought to me of late.

I was talking with some friends and it came up (you don’t want the details of how we got to this conversation) that as part of a personal growth thing I’m doing right now, I was currently being celibate.  This is the point where one of my friends (very active… if you know what I mean) cried out, “How are you supposed to write romance if you aren’t having sex?”  I found this amusing and enlightening.

Not to be sexist, but the friend who said this is a guy, and I thought the comment showed a lack of understanding as to what romance is and requires from a writer.  If I was writing Erotica (not to be confused with Erotic Romance… my own little soapbox) then an active sex life might help with my writing.  I’m not convinced it would, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. 

As a romance writer though (erotic romance included), I think all I need is an active imagination of how my perfect romance would end.  Notice I said end?  Because, as we all know, we have to put our heroes and heroines, or H/H (in any combination) in bad situations and give them trials to overcome and obstacles to break through.  But, when all the difficulties and misunderstandings and insecurities and fears have been addressed or handled – our H/H will come together and live happily ever after.  The end.

Sex is not the same as romance.  Sex is a nice part of romance but it is not the same thing.  So, while my erotic romance sex scenes might be slowed down by my own lack of… it doesn’t have to be.  I’m not dead after all and I do have a memory. 

The romance though, the romance requires no sex at all to find inspiration because while sadly, my own relationships thus far have not measured up to my ideal in any way, I know what I wish it looked like and that’s what I write.  When Epic Black Car (Sorry – I can’t get his link to work) wrote on his blog that romance writers are a secret army of man lovers – I cheered.  It’s true, we love our manly-men.  Any guy who wants to know what women want – read a romance novel.  We tell you.  We lay it out in black and white in millions of books a year. 

So, while I agree that in many ways we need to write what we know (it’s easier), romance is not one of them.  If we were all getting what we want and need in our real life relationships, we might not have such a driving need to escape into it in a book.  I know there are tons of successful relationships out there and this is not to discount them in any way, but I sort of think that even the best of them could use a little boost now and then. That’s my thoughts at any rate.  What say you?


Filed under Uncategorized

My Life Is Getting In The Way of My Life

While I find great value in the things I do that are writing related, they do take away time from my actually writing.  I am Secretary for three different writing groups, I judge for writing contests, I critique and/or edit for friends, I am assisting with our local romance writers conference, and many other things.  So, while I am investing in my career through networking and leadership positions, it does take time away from when I could be writing.  It’s a sacrifice I find worthwhile.

 On the non-writing front, I have other huge commitments that take a considerable amount of time and effort, but that I also find hugely rewarding to me personally.

 Then there is my writing which is also a top priority commitment. 

 And, somewhere in there I have to find time for family, friends, business, romantic relationships (less so at the moment, I know), and relaxing Clancy-time (I’m a movie / TV show junkie so that’s a lot of time and it’s NFL Season).  All in all, my life is getting in the way of my life.

 All of you can relate I’m sure as everyone has to balance a variety of activities.  I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to over-extend myself and get worn out.  I’m a little worn out now, in fact. 

 That worn out feeling in not particularly conducive to my creative mojo.  Regardless, I have to find ways to balance these things, squish out enough hours in the day to do all I need to do, still sleep, and be creative whether I am feeling the mojo or not. 

The hope is that at some point, I’ll figure out how to not over-book my life, so I can have one too.  I made these choices and I’ll survive them.  Heck, I’ll thrive because I think I like the pressure, but I do think I could juggle a little better or choose a few less balls to throw in the air.  I’m trying to work smarter so I don’t have to work harder, but I’m not sure I’m succeeding.  If you’re handling it all better than me, please share?


Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

Writing Is Like Racing

A little history.  My CP and I spent all of last year working on our respective stories.  Both paranormal romances, hers is dark, mine is light.  Both had been written, revised, edited, rewritten and so on unto death.  Early this year, we were both frustrated and fed up with our stories.  You may remember my blog post where I talked about when to give up on a story.  This was that story.  Anyway, my CP has continued to work on hers.  Changing the story to the point it’s not a rewrite anymore, it’s really a new story with recycled (sort of) characters and world-building. 

So, a few days ago we were talking and she was venting about her continued frustration.  I can completely relate.  Writing can be really frustrating at times.  After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that had we just slowed down with our initial ms and wrote with more intent we wouldn’t have had to re-write a billion times over.  Now, for the analogy.

Who remembers Days of Thunder with Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall?  Remember how Cruise kept burning through his tires because he wanted to race balls-to-the-walls (that’s really fast) all the time.  He feels this is going to get him to the finish line faster.  Duvall, his racing manager guy, says No.  He needs to take his time and drive with intent (broadly paraphrased).  So, they have a competition.  Cruise gets to race his way and then the way Duvall wants him to.  They’ll time both and measure the tires after each to see who is right.  Cruise’s way blows out his tires and his time is slowed because of it.  Duvall’s way comes in faster and with tread still left on the tires.  Duvall wins. 

 Writing is like that.  I can race through my writing trying to get the initial story out but if I then have to spend the next long length of time trying to fix it because I didn’t add in enough sensory or emotional stuff, I’m not saving time.  If I write with intent to get the emotion, the setting, the characterization, and the sensory stuff in there the first time, sure – it might take me longer for that initial draft, but it will take me less time for the finished draft.  Moral: Slower and deliberate wins the race.  That’s my new philosophy.  What say you?

1 Comment

Filed under The Craft of Writing, Writing in general

Emotions are our Trade

I watched a movie the other day called Bigger Than the Sky.  It was about a guy finding himself through community theater.  At the beginning, he was a recently dumped, yes-man at work, uninspired, friendless, boring frump who seemed invisible to himself and others.  He auditions for a play at the local community theater despite having no experience and gets the lead as Cyrano de Bergerac.  Through the course of the movie, he meets another girl, makes some friends, quits his job and finds out he can be a leading man in the play and in his own life.

 It wasn’t a great movie but it was a really good one, and it did have John Corbett, Amy Smart, Patty Duke and Sean Astin in it.  But more importantly, it resonated with me.  It will stay with me.  I realized half way through it, I had seen it before years ago, but it had not made the same impact then.  I had not been going through the same process then either.

 When I really started writing full time a year and a half ago, I was a closed off, emotionally stunted, relationship-challenged, hopeless romantic trapped in a jaded cynic’s body.  People for decades had been telling me to tear down my walls and let people in, to be vulnerable.  I rolled my eyes and said I was perfectly happy as I was – thank you very much.  When I decided I wanted to write for a living, it didn’t take long to figure out that if my writing was ever going to be great, it needed to be emotional and vulnerable.  But, how do you write that when you aren’t living it?  Answer:  you can’t.

 So, I have spent this year tearing down walls, opening up, exploring sides of me I didn’t know existed and becoming the most authentic me I can become.  Am I still a work in progress – yes.  Do I still have a long way to go – hell yes.  But, am I already a better writer for it – most definitely.  Sometimes, I feel like a walking wound, crying all the time.  Feeling raw and exposed is not the most comfortable place to exist, yet I have thirty years of pent up emotion waiting to be expressed, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it takes time and a lot of energy.  I’m glad though.  I’m happier, calmer, and more at peace within my own skin than I have ever been. 

As writers, we can research jobs and places from the comfort of our home thanks to the internet.  We can fake it well enough the reader may never know we haven’t done that job or visited that place.  We can’t fake the emotions though.  We have to put ourselves out there in order to draw the reader in with us.  It’s worth it though, isn’t it?  If we can touch someone with our writing?  I think so.  What say you?


Filed under From this Reader's perspective, Life thoughts, Writing in general