Okay, when I’m not writing, my day kinda looks like this:
I don’t hate my fast food, customer service, shift management position. I don’t exactly love it either. Eight to ten hours on my feet while people who probably hate their own lives tell me that I should get a better job is not exactly what I’d call living the dream. But it is a job, and it pays my bills.
In between packing massive amounts of fries into bags of dubious quality I like to jot down ideas for my stories. Since I worked a long shift today I did my best to get an outline together so that tomorrow, when I only have to go in for four hours, I can get some real words down on the page.
You know, opposed to the imaginary ones floating around in my head.
But I did it!! I got [2/3 of] an outline done! I have the basic cast in mind. I’ve decided that my first romantic novel is going to be relatively short, barely touching on the traditional novel length, and that the cast is going to be very, very small so I have the opportunity to really develop the main characters and their turbulent, slow-burn relationship.
Can it be slow burn if you are only doing 50,000-ish words? I dunno. I hope so. That’s what we are going for.
Also, I may have spent a large portion of my time between batches of fries and sweeping up after poorly wrangled children utilizing my workplace WiFi and scrolling through a massive amount of indie artists who make digital covers for novels. There are so, so many. It’s kinda overwhelming.
Either way, outline is (nearly) done, and I am planning on crawling into a good book tonight, probably with a cat demanding my attention. Hope everyone who reads this is having a fantastic day, and that your dreams are being reached.
All those self help books tell aspiring writers that they fall into one of two groups; plotters or pantsers. There’s a lot to unpack there, but I’ve basically decided this means that some people need to have an outline, some people just want to write what pops into their head, when it pops there.
I….am somewhere in the middle. I think? Like, I’ve written before. But I am usually working with other people when I write. My online gaming buddies, the established setting for my fanfiction fluff, or for work…which almost always comes with some kind of guideline. I like guidelines, they make me feel safe.
But here I am, starting from scratch. Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming. Oh don’t get me wrong, my plethora of self help books have given me all kinds of To-Do’s, and I appreciate them. They do feel a tad…universal? I think I need to do something a little more me.
So for day one of project: Nerdy Girl Romance, I am writing up a list of all the story ideas I’ve had floating around in my head, and then organizing them by which stories I have a real plot for, which ones I have a vague half-daydream about, and which ones I would rather stick into a box for later and pretend I’d never thought of because I already know they are going to leave scars on my heart.
I have had a love affair with books since I was a little girl. Dime store psychology tells me that because I moved around a lot–nine different schools in twelve years–that books were a form of permanency in a tumultuous time. But, if you were to ask me, I’d just tell you that I like the smell.
But, when I wasn’t reading books I was gaining levels in Cliche Geek. Maybe it had something to do with all the moving, but alongside my love of literature I found an equal love for video games, D&D (and all it’s variations), anime, comics, board games, cosplay, and pretty much every other stereotypical gaming thing that you can name.
A few years ago I made the mistake of taking a creative writing class for fun. I thought it would just be a way to dip my toes into the world of creativity and that I could use it for some of my roleplaying or fanfiction. Spoiler alert: It worked. Problem? It worked a little too well. I, like so many, found a passion for writing that I had been unwittingly feeding with all my other interests.
The question became: What on earth was I going to write!?!
This was not an easy question for me. I did what any bibliophile does when facing a life altering dilema. I bought some books. A dozen self books all had pretty much the same thing: Write what you love.
What do I love? Well, I like nerdy things. I like comics and video games and table-top roleplaying. I like Firefly and Nana and Game of Thrones. I like most of the things that 90’s kids who felt weird and awkward like. That doesn’t really make for a good story though does it? Nearly middle aged woman writes about 90’s kids struggling to walk the line between being weird and being cool. Story of my life, sure, but I could only write it once, and it ends with: She lived ever after with dadaist humor and cats.
So I had to take a good long look at my shelves and reconcile myself to the fact that while I adore every genre of literature out there, romance has a special place in my heart.
I know, I know. I’ve heard all the nit-picking and belittling. I’ve heard people tear down romance or paint it all with the ‘smutty lit’ brush. It’s porn for women. It gives women unhealthy views of romance. I’ve heard people call it the ultimate in feminist literature, or the most unfeminist genre ever. I’ve heard lots of points, and some of them I agree with; but on the whole I think people ignore that Romance, as a genre, is multifaceted and complicated.
What I know, is that I love it. I love reading about two people overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to fall in love. The complexities, the ridiculousness, and the love have a special place in my heart. So yeah, I’m gonna write that. I’m gonna write the heck out of it.
Step one: Complete.
But what KIND of romance? There are so many different varieties. There’s Regency Romance, with all of the social constructs and rules and Austen fueled language. There is sweet, down to earth contemporary with totally unrealistic scenarios. And, my personal favorite, urban fantasy themed romance. What girl growing up on Buffy didn’t love vampires and werewolves and demons? Oh my.
I was, however, terrified of being pigeonholed into just one type of romance story. If I got stuck writing nothing but vampire bites for the rest of my life, I run the risk of eventually hating the blood suckers. I certainly didn’t want that. If I fed my love of history, was I going to end up getting lost in history books and forgetting to write? Maybe, gods forbid, make a historical error that drove me batty for the rest of my days?
In need of guidance I turned to my self-help books. I read and reread them until I was pretty sure their contents were leaking out of my ears. What did most of them say? What makes you unique? Different? Why does the world need YOUR story?
And gosh, let me tell you, I wasn’t entirely sure the world needed anything from me. Part of that was my friends Anxiety and Depression smacking me around. Part of that was me not really looking at the problem in parts. Then, in the middle of my Saturday night D&D session, it hit me.
My sorceress/thief was trapped in a dungeon with an orc. My mind immediately jumped to the scenario that two people from two incredibly different worlds would have to depend on one another for survival. It was a romance story starring me right in the face. One that I could write, and write well.
I was going to be a fantasy romance writer.
Write up until we started playing Travellor, a science fiction game on the frontiers of space where I played a space pirate who was attempting to woo a space princess. There was another story.
Maybe I was going to be a science fiction romance writer?
Then I played….you know what? You get the idea. I am a nerd and I want to write stories that revolve around all the settings and themes that have gotten me through the good times and the bad. I want Regency romance with a steampunk twist. I want an arranged marriage between a high society elf and a trailer park witch. I want super heros falling in love and robots learning what it means to connect.