The Horse Is Dead… No More Flogging

For weeks now I have been trying to get excited about what would be my third manuscript. It’s actually the first MS I ever wrote, and for almost three years now, it’s been stuck in a folder called Story 1: Fringe Benefits.

I began it as a reunion romance and it spanned the two regions that I’ve called home in the last 40 years. It started in the vineyards at Margaret River and it ends in the vineyards of South Australia. It was to be a love story between, Seth, CEO and big kahuna boss of a bunch of vineyards and wineries across West Australia; and Quin, originally Seth’s employee. After Quin makes a monumental stuff-up… she gets fired for negligence and with her career in tatters, heads interstate. Seven years later, Seth’s company acquires the winery in South Australia to which Quin sells her grapes, and the two are thrown back together.

So there you have the first plotline I ever came up with, (except when I rewrote Bambi when I was 8).

The book has a jealous co-worker, a meddling mother, boss/employee, and an ‘engagement of convenience’… In fact, just about every trope you can think of minus ‘Secret Baby’…

I did get to typing ‘The End’ on this book and submitting it, and it was rejected quick smart, by both agents and publishers. I left it behind and went on a steep ‘craft’ learning curve on the way to writing His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride. Not only have I enjoyed success with both of those, I loved (LOVED) writing them. They didn’t come easy — no book comes easy. But I was always interested and motivated to work, work, work on both of those stories and make them as good as I could.

Sometimes I think ‘Fringe Benefits’ suffered from being the first book. I was writing something that I ‘thought’ would get published. The voice was all wrong and I knew nothing about craft and it shows.

I have wasted about two months, possibly three, trying to save the 55,000 odd words that I had for Fringe Benefits. I changed scenes. I deleted scenes. I rewrote scenes. I changed point of view and tense. It was third person point of view, past tense. My latest rewrite shifted to first person & present tense. I even changed the dud title, without settling on a new one in my mind. Not even the title came naturally.

But really, truly, I think the reason I’ve been procrastinating my butt off; changing it, deleting it, messing with it… it’s because the story stinks.

I read a brilliant post by Alison Stuart this week about what happens when a writer finds “the black moment”. Alison talked about trying to make her book (a square peg) fit the proverbial round hole. She talks about what happened when she realised her book was at the point of Mount Doom (it helps to read her post if you’re a Lord Of The Rings fan – but it’s not hard to get the gist).

I read Alison’s post and I thought: “This is me.” I had the ring on my finger, I had pulled it off and was holding it out over the lava pit of Mount Doom… but I couldn’t give it up. No matter how much my inner Sam pleaded with me: “Let it go…”

Last night, I let Fringe Benefits go. I’m not flogging a dead horse a minute longer.

I have a great little idea that I wrote for the RWA ‘Sapphires’ Little Gem competition this year. I had fun writing the story (3000 words), and I’ve been thinking about how to work with that story. It was called Fairway To Heaven and the ‘Sapphires’ related to a brand of golf clubs. Cobra Sapphires. I even like the working title!

So that’s where I’m turning my attention and if I’m not quite blogging so much in the next few months, hopefully it’s because I’m head down/bum up in a new story. Wish me luck!

In the words of Alison Stuart, I’m going back to Hobbiton to start my quest anew!

Book 3: Is there such a thing as third book syndrome?

I’ve heard of ‘second book syndrome’… but after His Brand Of Beautiful, I didn’t struggle with writing book two, which turned out to be The Goodbye Ride.

But I am struggling with Book 3, which is actually a return to Book 1. For the moment, I’m calling it Fringe Benefits, but I’m pretty sure that title will change.

Fringe Benefits was the first book I ever wrote. Shortly after I typed ‘The End’ I turned my attention to His Brand Of Beautiful, which some 14 months later, was picked up by Escape Publishing and went on to become my debut book in March 2013.

I am having a real struggle getting back into the swing of writing, after what feels like weeks of hard edits, soft edits, tweaks, publishing (self-publishing) and promotion for both His Brand Of Beautiful, and for The Goodbye Ride. Actually sitting back down into some routine of writing is proving elusive.

I’m hopeful that if I stick with it, it will all begin to flow again. I’m blaming some of my problem on my workspace. I love to write outdoors. We have a wonderful verandah here in our little rental home. I love the sun and I love finding a space with the sun on my back for my writing.

But it’s winter now. It gets dark early. I can’t write when I’m cold, and so for the most part, I’m writing in bed with my laptop on my err, lap. (Where else would it be, hey?)

I’m writing at night and I’m getting really tired before I seem to churn out many words. And are they good words? I don’t know. I think so. I liked my opening scene when I started writing 2 nights ago and I’m really glad I’ve got a first draft down so I don’t have to start it cold.

Fringe Benefits is a darker book than my first two. H&H are going to have some fairly ding-dong fights along the way. It’s a reunion story and the break-up is fierce… lots of unresolved issues at the core, lots of blame. Huge amounts of chemistry though! Of course.

So I think it’s time I put my head in the bat cave and don’t come out for a while… keep warm, and hope that enthusiasm and flow will come!