A short break from poetry to announce that after 23 years of procrastination, editing, ignoring, and moments of frantic work, I have self-published the first manuscript I ever ‘completed’. “The Stanleigh Rose”. You can get it here as an ebook.
What a journey.
Back in 1995 I was unhappily unemployed and living in a share house. I did not have enough to do – I thought I’d write a novel, and someone suggested it would be easy to write a romance novel. I was assured by more than one person, that “They write themselves.”
No. No they do not.
If anyone tells you something like this, they have NEVER written one. You still have to create a story and fill it and filling a romance with story is not easy.
I don’t actually like READING romance. Oh yes I have a number of books that might qualify as romance in my top 100 books I like to reread (for example, Jane Eyre, and The Grand Sophy) but I prefer my books to be a little more…well. Not romance.
I did try to publish this but I was rejected. One place were very nice, they actually said they enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the sort of novel that sold these days.
Basically, I did an old-fashioned, slow moving romance, set in the Victorian era. I considered making the main character poly-amorous but I don’t really think that suited the times and so I had to make Heather choose between Manfred and Peter. I added in a few extra characters to vary it a bit.
I chose to vanity publish – why not. I picked Smashwords as they seemed to be the best out there after talking to some other people I know who publish. I edited and edited and styled and ripped and moved bits of text around. I have done this professionally in documents that were for software development purposes. You just have to view your own writing as someone else’s to edit it. And be ruthless. I chopped out a lot of dross and repetitive things this time through.
Manfred, btw, was the name a bunch of my friends came up with to mock me when I said I needed a name for one of the heroes of the book. Thorne was another contender, except that I know a Thorne and anything less like the character I can’t imagine. Peter was named after a friend just because I wanted to make an in-joke in one of the lines. No I’m not telling which. 🙂
Since I started this I’ve gone through a bit of a transformation as to the sorts of characters I’d put in a book. This is very…white… and abelist, frankly. I actually considered rewriting chunks of it to change that, but since my next manuscript (that I’m trying to get published atm) is modern, has bisexual, genderfluid characters as well as people from many cultural backgrounds, I think it works better there. And really, I doubt more than 10 people will ever read this, so it seriously wasn’t worth it.
Though the editing process, and writing process itself, did show me I could write.
I can honestly put my hand on my heart and state I will never attempt to write another romance novel and I admire the people out there who have it in them.