I’m doing something I never thought I’d do.
I’m doing three things I never thought I’d do. That’s a lot of things all at once. It’s kind of scary, but also exhilarating. Doing these things sort of snuck up on me, so I thought I’d share the story of how it happened.
The ubiquitous They—you know of “They Say” fame—say that writers should always write something when they’re waiting on responses on queries or submissions. Since I’m in that place, I’ve been actively trying to find other things to write. I started on a sequel to my current MS and I got very far along in it before I decided to flesh out my planned ending better. So, I abandoned it (temporarily) for a shiny new idea about muses that I had. Wrote two scenes in that before I realized I had a great premise, but not the characters or conflict to go in it. So, I stopped writing to give those things more thought. (Again, temporarily.) At that point, I found myself a writer with nothing to write.
Understand: this was KILLING me. I missed writing and my life was truly lacking because I had about a six-week period where I wasn’t writing.
Enter my friend, Nicole.
I work with Nicole at a historic museum that centers on life in the 1820-1850 period. Now I’m really lucky that my bosses have asked me to write some companion stories to go with some of our education materials, so I’d been writing those for a while. It’s fun and I like it. But I made the comment to Nicole, “I like what I’m writing just fine, but it’s basically middle grade narratives and that means THERE IS NO KISSING IN THEM!!! ARRRRGH.”
Have I mentioned I like writing romance? Yeah. I do.
Nicole nodded her head, understanding me because she likes reading romance. She innocently said, “You should write a story about a girl who lived here on our (museum) block who falls for the hot young Print Shop apprentice, but her father has arranged for her to marry another man, but here’s the thing: that man isn’t evil or bad. He’s completely worthy and a nice guy, so the girl has to make a hard choice between the two of them.”
I laughed out loud for a good minute. Me? Write an historical short romance with a triangle in it?
I had an idea. Not just an idea, but a very clear picture of hot print shop apprentice and the girl who’d fall for him. I turned to Nicole and said, “Hold my Diet Coke.” (Because I don’t drink beer, you see.)
Okay, maybe those weren’t my exact words to her, but her idea sparked my interest and I wanted to see if I could do it. She threw out a couple of things she’d like to see in this short historical romance and we had a great afternoon “writing” our story. Or, you know, throwing out crazy ideas and laughing about it until passers-by started to wonder if the museum was actually selling grog in our Grog Shop. (It isn’t.) She even did some research for me and came up with real people from the area and a gorgeous daguerreotype photo that served as inspiration for my apprentice!
That night, I went home and tried to write it, just to see if I could. I like a challenge. I wrote a scene where the apprentice and girl meet for the first time and a big conflict scene between them that would occur far later. (Nicole was very specific about wanting this scene in my story! By the way, she was right. It’s a great scene and I love it!)
Proud and a little excited of what I’d created, I took them for her to read. Her reaction was to squeal and insist I continue…as long as I put in a scene about X, and Y, and Z.*
So, here I am writing a short story. I’m a wordy writer. I’m always trying to find ways to cut words instead of adding them. Short stories are difficult for me because I NEEDS ALL THE WERDZ! But I’m managing. As I write this blog I’m close to 20K and I’m almost to the last dramatic scene. Not exactly a short short story, but it’s not going to be a novel.*
And I’m writing a piece set in 1848. 1848!! I’ve dabbled in almost every genre there is, but never once did I consider writing something historical. In my (erroneous) mind, if I couldn’t use modern slang or references, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Turns out that my natural tendency for formal prose works well in an historical. Only a few times have I caught myself using modern terms. (And hey, research is fun for me. Did you know that lemonade was first served in 1857? Sadly, my MC can’t offer her hot young apprentice a glass, but he can be compared to Casanova, who died in 1798!)
Finally, I’m doing it. I’m writing an actual love triangle. For me (though not for everyone) triangles are tedious and I really don’t care for them unless they’re very well done. (For YA: see The Selection series by Kiera Cass or for a steamier NA: see Colleen Hoover’s Maybe Someday for triangles done well, IMO.) I hope when I finished my triangle is well done. It’s been interesting to write because I, the writer, clearly have a favorite, but I wanted to show merits in the other guy too. I hope I’ve done that. We’ll see. For Print Shop apprentice is pretty hot…
I’m not sure if anyone but Nicole will read this little experiment of mine, but I do know that it’s gotten me excited about writing again. I’ve been in the zone where I can’t type what’s in my head fast enough. I’m thinking about scenes when I’m driving to work and writing until I have to get up and go to work or fix dinner.
If you’re a writer, I encourage you to try this type of experiment. You may be surprised with what you end up with.
*I’m not sharing any other details yet because I don’t know what I’m going to do with this thing. I may post it on the blog or Wattpad for others to read. Or I may just pass it around to the museum folk who will absolutely be able to picture the setting. I’ll let you know when I decide.