I struggled along about 2/3rds of the way through, not really feeling it. When I subbed chapters to crit partners, they told me the story made them cry. As an insomniac, I do much of my writing in the middle of the night. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a real coward when it comes to scary stories. In the silence of night, some of Love’s scenes scared me so bad I couldn’t continue writing.
I deleted more than I kept. Dreamed about it, dwelled on it during my waking hours, rolled it over and over in my mind all the time. It didn’t matter. That book was just not coming together.
I finally put it down.
I wrote my middle grade humorous mystery, The Dumps. And dwelled on Love.
I wrote three picture books. Dwelled on Love.
I quit writing altogether to come to grips with my husband’s death. Big, big mistake. I grieved over that decision as much as I grieved over losing him.
I made a major move and sold my business. Dwelled on Love, still grieved over the loss of writing.
Went to school and got licensed as a nail technician. Dwelled on Love, still grieved, felt adulterous that I even contemplated becoming engrossed in something besides writing. Still, somebody’s got to bring home the tofu.
In August 2009 I reached a point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. I logged on to Verla Kay’s blueboards for the first time in over 31/2 years. I couldn’t remember my password to my old live journal account, and since I have a new Internet server and my old e-mail address was through the old server, I couldn’t get my hint. So I opened a new account and started posting again.
I thought it would take time to get my feet wet again. Wrong. I dove in headfirst. I posted something on the blueboards and immediately some of my old friends sent me a hardy welcome back. I was so overwhelmed. I started subbing The Dumps again and clicked open that musty old document…It Must Have Been Love.
No change! No matter how hard I tried, nothing happened. WHY COULDN’T I MAKE THIS BOOK WORK?
I got hooked up with a few one on one partners. They loved the beginning chapters. For me though, the chapters didn’t jive. Shayelyn, the protagonist had no conflict. She had a story, just no driving force.
I joined a critique group. That was the turning point. They pointed out my flaws. I think I posted two chapters that were nothing more that a bunch of mumbo jumbo. One night in the wee hours I lay staring at the ceiling. Lenora, my muse sat on the ceiling fan with her legs dangling. She smiled in all her obtrusive cockiness and said to me...“Why are you trying to force something that doesn’t work? Change it!”
Change it? Lenora had never been a drinker. Had she been in my wine collection?
Change it…Hmmm. What if I took out the negative sadness and added a little humor? My strong point is humor. In the darkness, I suddenly saw Shaye taking on new life. What if I tempered the scary parts with realistic explanations? Immediately, my plot took a sharp right and whole, new scenery and characters appeared out of nowhere. Change it! You better believe I’ll change it! Get off my fan, Lenora! You’re sucking my air!
And I did. Change it, that is.
The rest is history. It took me about 45 days. The story flowed. It poured so fast I barely could type fast enough.
Shayelyn has a whole new personality. I murdered a few of the other characters, and gave birth to others. Some have been dramatically changed. Some names were changed. There was a major change of scenery.
I didn’t scrap the old plot. In fact, it still simmers in my mind. But with the changes I have made, even the old plot is beginning to take shape and will be a whole different book. Its title will be, The Code of Silence.
In essence…I have learned that if you have a story to tell, tell it. You just may have to go about telling it in a round about way.
It festered and simmered in my mind for years. The story of two young sisters, Casey and Shayelyn Albright practically screamed to get out of my brain and onto paper, but I couldn’t find their voice. I knew the story inside and out. It saturated the very air I breathed. That didn’t matter. I couldn’t put it into words. It’s not that I didn’t try. I started writing It Must Have Been Love in March 2006.