“You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.”
~~~ Mark Twain in a letter to his son Orion Clemens, 23 March 1878
I often wonder how many authors have this problem. I write…then I re-write…then I edit…then I critique myself…then the cycle begins again. I believe I am my own worst critic. Is this the reason so many authors belong to critique groups? Could it be possible I truly am my own worst critic and need the fresh eyes of another writer?
My stories are fresh and unique. I love that about them. Not only are the novels of the vein most romance readers love but in the style I know and enjoy. Would joining a critique group make them better? I think this may be one avenue I may explore. However, I enjoy the solitude of writing, of getting into those characters in my head and giving them voice…would leaning on another author alter my style or enhance it?
While at Moonlight and Magnolias a few months ago I was honored to win a couple of raffles. One was the privilege (and it is indeed a privilege) to have a critique of my work by Sandra Chastain. Ms. Chastain not only is a lady with respect among her peers as a writer of fifty or so novels, she is a co-founder of the new imprint, BelleBooks, a Southern-oriented fiction publisher. Some of my contemporary and several of my historical storylines would fit her category perfectly. Perhaps this is the reason I am a bit nervous about having her see my work. It is an honor as well as a chance to let her examine my work through the eyes of a publisher and as a fellow writer. Could it lead to a new chapter in my writing life? Wouldn’t that be fabulous! Absolutely.
Chastain is a lovely lady, her influence in Georgia Romance Writers Chapter is obvious. An award for writers within the Moonlight and Magnolias Maggies annual event is named for her. She was one of their founding members and still attends today! This is what I love about her…the interest in the organization and in new members. The fact she actually co-founded BelleBooks and is now active in publication is inspiring! I met her once before through a new Georgia friend, Jackie Rodriquez, and was impressed with her knowledge and quick wit. She is an encouraging staple in the Southern writers’ community.
Twain, historically famous for his novels Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as well as countless others, has been a long-time favorite author of mine. While he isn’t known for romance novels (Judith McNaught, you have the top spot in firing up my Regency aspirations!) he is a writer with a voice all his own. I lived through his work…and that is what I seek for my own readers. Much as I could feel that little kiss between Tom and Becky, I want my readers to feel the kisses in my books. The friendship and devotion between Tom and his friend, Huck, are colorful and alive. I loved that as a child and still do.
Ms. Chastain, Mr. Twain, Ms. McNaught. I love their influences on writers. Different genres, different styles, different readers. But what stands out in my mind…they all appeal to their own unique audiences.
After conquering a few dire weeks of writer’s block, of overcoming a few family and personal obstacles and simply dealing with my own self-doubts I am proud to say my work for Ms. Chastain is coming along nicely. I had written several chapters months ago and had them ready to submit to her for critique…then I’d re-written…then I’d edited. You get the picture, yes? Sometimes I feel I edit my voice out of my own work.
Today I am going back to page one. I am looking it over with a keen eye for my styling and my voice. And, as much as I’ll want to follow that old routine once again, I will be submitting my work to be critiqued and with just the right amount of thunder and lightning. Who knows, I may wind up with my original chapters…but I am determined to present my own voice to be critiqued.
I’m feeling the romance in writing!