Oh yeah – I went there. This is the best image I could find to illustrate one of the things that has been in my imagination over the past month as I rewrote DISTILALTION – it’s not quite right, a little too…perfect, but nonetheless a visual helps.
Summer has flown by because I have been having way too much fun rewriting DISTILLATION. I took a serious hiatus from Blogger – though I’ve been around the Twittersphere a bit. It was a choice I needed to make between reading and thinking about writing and just WRITING. Over the past two months I have completely reworked my novel and not only do I think it is much better, but I feel that I have finally embraced the writer I never knew I wanted to be.
When we start out writing, there are so many preconceived notions of what is and what is not good, inspiring, marketable, enlightening, or worthwhile. I just read a tweeted blog post entitled You Want to Write Trash? thanks to @AmyJRomine. This post is about a woman whose husband thought her Gothic romance was trash and didn’t see why she would write such drivel. Well, it turned out her husband was a good reason to need some romance in her life.
My life is pretty good, but like most, it is full of work and bills and responsibilities and other boring things. So I write to escape it, to add some measure of fantasy to my days. And this time around with DISTILLATION, I finally let go of my preconceived notions. I stopped trying to cling to some modicum of reality, because I asked myself the question: Who the hell wants to escape to reality? Not me.
Earlier this spring I tried to read a realist novel by a well known author whose prior work I had enjoyed years ago. I got to page 50 and when a character was lamenting a horrible tragedy for the 10th page in a row, I closed it and never picked it up again.
I wanted fantasy – damn it. I wanted witches, and ghosts, and magic, and maybe a little mystical love. Okay maybe a lot. Well good thing I had the summer ahead of me to rewrite a book with the potential for all of those things. And man, has it been fun.
When I let go, so did Alice (my MC). She articulated what she wanted, she stopped shaking in her boots, she faced her fears to find the truth, she figured out she wanted her man early on, (and let him know it), and she let others help her to accept herself for who she is, which in the end enabled her to solve the mystery, which made everyone happy. Alice (and I) achieved so much more than we did in the first version. We went so much further, in so many ways. Looking back at the story I thought was “done,” I now see as a real let down. It was so UNSATISFYING.
DISTILLATION went from being a half baked magic realism flopper, to a full on gothic, darl, scary, fantastical, magical, funny, sexy, and – I think – inspiring story. No I am not calling myself a romance writer these days. Still supernatural women’s fiction. But, I stopped telling myself I must be the only one who reads good love scenes twice just for fun, or gets excited when full on magic brings down that bad guy. Once I embraced what I wanted and let myself stop worrying that it was silly, then Alice embraced her talents and had a real adventure.
Now, let’s just hope that when the rose colored glasses come off, it reads as good for others as it does me.