Tag Archives: Ramblings

Rediscovering the Muse

I’ve got an admission to make: I’m somewhat of a perfectionist. And I crave praise. Yes, I suspect somewhere in the depths of my psyche there lives a little puppy dog who needs a pat on the head to feel happy.

Since I sold my first novel, I put huge pressure on myself. Mostly, this was done unconciously. I simply expected my novels to do fantastically well. Like, making the bestseller lists. Or winning a RITA. Or something. Take your pick, but make it big. I envied other newbie writers whose first novels were great successes. Oh, how I envied them!

When people told me that I had already achieved so much, I secretly thought they were humouring me. What do they know anyway? In a way I could only see the things I had not achieved.

I wanted to be a great writer, I wanted to be a successful writer, I wanted my novels to be loved by everybody and their auntie, I wanted them to be perfect.

As you know, there were also quite a lot of other things going on in my life at the time, so in the end, writing had become utterly, utterly exhausting. Some time after I had handed in the manuscript of Bewitched, my Muse eventually decided to pack her bags and go on an extended holiday. Then, of course, our cats fell ill and I simply didn’t have enough energy left for writing, with or without the Muse. All the drama and scandals and what-nots of Romancelandia suddenly seemed so very, very unimportant.

This year, as you are probably aware from some of my posts *g*, the Muse (with sunglasses and flamboyant hat) returned from her holiday (waving her umbrella and shouting, “Cooo-eee!”), but as I had to battle dragons, I didn’t have any time for her.

But now that the dratted diss is finished I do have time. In the past few months I had to face some uncomfortable realisations. Like, that somewhere along the way I lost the joy of writing. Due to the fact that I put so much pressure upon myself, writing became just another troublesome task. How ironic is that? My whole life I’d dreamt of becoming a published author, but once I was a publisher author, I botched it, just because I’m an idiotic perfectionist. Duh.

In the end, being published or not, isn’t the most important thing after all. The joy is. The joy and exhilaration of losing oneself in a story and bringing it alive on empty pages. That is what has always been important to me and very much a part of myself. And I want it back.

Over the next few weeks and months, I plan to rediscover the joy of writing. I will wear my Muse’s flamboyant hat (metaphorically speaking, mind you!) and will write whatever I like without giving any thought to whether it fits the marketplace or not. I will be as fanciful as I like, as silly as I like, and as extravagant as I like. I won’t waste time with envying other people for their successes. Life is really too short for that kind of nonsense.

And now please excuse me. I have to log off and wear a flamboyant hat and start a smooch-fest with my Muse.

Marginalia

As an academic you’re supposed to underline passages in the books you read and scribble notes in the margins. So when you open my copy of Gaskell’s North and South on page 66 (= end of Chapter VII), you’ll find the following:

But when they removed to their new house in Milton, the obnoxious papers were gone. The landlord received their thanks very composedly; and let them think, if they liked, that he had relented from his expressed determination not to repaper. There was no particular need to tell them, that what he did not care to do for a Reverend Mr Hale, unknown in Milton, he was only too glad to do at the one short sharp remonstrance of Mr Thornton, the welathy manufacturer.

writes Gaskell, and Sandy has underlined the last sentence of this paragraph and added

shows Thornton’s power in Milton
+from the very beginning he
cares 🙂 & takes care of the Hales

I used to think that I had to make serious comments in the margins, comments that showed my academic insight. Notes in the margins, I believed, had to be serious and reflective, proof of my excellent understanding of the text. Perhaps you’ve already guessed from the smiley-face in the comment above that somewhere along the way I ditched this calm & serious approach. Therefore you’ll also find comments like this in my copy of N&S:

Henry is a jerk!

serves as a commentary on this passage from Chapter L, when Henry Lennox tells Thornton:

“You think Miss Hale looking well,” said Mr Lennox, “don’t you? Milton didn’t agree with her, I imagine; for when she first came to London, I thought I had never seen any one so much changed.”

And,

Awww

was my comment on this sentence from Chapter XXVI, when Thornton has just been rejected by Margaret:

It would have been a relief to him, if he could have sat down and cried on a door-step by a little child, who was raging and storming, through his passionate tears, at some injury he had received.

Awwww, indeed!

The comments in the books for my romance seminar next semester are bound to be interesting. *ggg*
~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~
My marginalia don’t look quite as pretty as the one pictured above from the Gutenberg Bible of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. 🙂

Romance Goodies

Romance goodies are things like

  • North & South + Richard Armitage
  • Pride & Prejudice + Colin Firth
  • North & South + Richard Armitage
  • Northanger Abbey + JJ Field
  • North & South + Richard Armitage (oops, I’ve already listed that one, haven’t I? Oh yes, looka here; I’ve already listed it twice. My, my …. *g*)

And, of course, this:

  • Georgette Heyer + Richard Armitage (Oh look! There’s that name again! What a coincidence! *ggg*)

RA has a very pleasant voice and he’s a fantastic reader and it’s Georgette Heyer (!!!), so this audiobook is a real treat. Now I just have to figure out how to order the long audiobook version of The Lords of the North …

Waaaargh! I wish, I wish, the stupid dragonz were all dead already!!!

Romance Writers Do It & Write About It*

And thus make romance readers happy, I should imagine. Well, this romance reader anyway. 🙂 After having spent the past weeks reading nothing but Heyer novels, I woke up this morning, craving a romance with sex in it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not necessarily in favour of the recent sexing-it-up trend. When reading a straightforward, mainstream romance novel, I don’t need the characters to jump into bed on page two, to have wild bunny sex every twenty pages, or to indulge in any kinky sex games. The hero most certainly doesn’t need to have a monstrously big penis nor one with any retractable appendages. Nor, heaven forbid, any body parts that glow in the dark (even if this might help to cut the cost of electricity!).

I like sweet romances, but I also like to read about characters getting physically intimate. After all, physical intimacy forms such an important part of a relationship. So as a reader I want to be shown that the characters also click on that level.

In my late teens, I read a lot of historical novels and I found most love-scenes included in those rather off-putting (e.g., the goat-sex scenes in “Die Kinder des Gral,” or the voodoo doll scene in “The Wise Woman”). When I stumbled across historical romance, I was enthralled by the love scenes in those books. Active women? Check. No off-putting descriptions? Check. Men who love pleasing their women? Check. Female point of view? Check, check, and check again.

One of the first romance novels I read was Stephanie Laurens’s “A Rake’s Vow.” I positively adored that first love scene, in which Patience secudes Vane to secude her. Strong woman gets hunky hero, and in the end they live happily ever after. And don’t die on top of some stupid tower with arrows raining on them. Ha!

And who could forget that wonderfully funny love scene in Jo Beverley’s “The Devil’s Heiress,” in which the heroine is comparing what she feels and sees to what she read about making love in a book called “The Annals of Aphrodite” (“‘It was rather alliterative.'”)? I mean, who could forget something like this:

“Men have books, and women steal them.” She was still looking at his Rod of Rapture, wondering if the book was right, and he would like her Felicitous Fingers.

*g* Beverley should get top marks for coming up with the most hilarious euphemisms in the history of the romance novel. (And they are hilarious on purpose, not by accident! *ggg*)

A love scene doesn’t even need to be explicit to pack a nice, emotional punch. Dorothy Dunnett’s “Checkmate” anybody? When Pippa and Francis finally made love, I cried buckets. It’s such a beautiful scene, and I was so very happy for them.

And then his true courtship of her had its beginning; and to the worship of his body, he joined the fairest garlands from the treasure-house of his mind, and made a bower for her.

*happy sigh* It doesn’t get any better than that! 🙂

* The Valley Forge Romance Writers RWA chapter sold tee-shirts with this motto at the 2005 RWA National Conference. I met a lady wearing such a tee-shirt at my stopover in Dallas on the way to Reno. I still remember this meeting not just because of the cool shirt, but also because she remembered that I had won the chapter’s Winning Beginnings contest in 2003. As a result of that first place in the historical category, I sold my first novel to Chris Keeslar. 🙂

Prost Neujahr!

Happy new year, everybody! I hope 2008 will be a wonderful year for you! May it be filled with love, laughter, and great books and may all your wishes come true! 🙂

After those lovely, lovely past few days I’m slowly switching back to work mode. Well … Or at least I’m thinking about switching back to work mode. *g* I looked at another student paper yesterday (I’m so good!), finally put together most of my Christmas mail (hey, in Spain Santa Claus doesn’t come until 6 January, so there’s still ple-e-e-e-enty of time!) (so, of course, in Spain it’s not Santa Claus, who brings the presents but the three Magi) (I think it’s in Spain that presents are exchanged on 6 January *scratching my head*).

Today I spent the whole afternoon working on a paper proposal for a collection on fairy tale film, only to come to the conclusion — sometime around six o’clock — that I don’t really have time to write an article of 5000 to 9000 words right now. So in the end, the paper proposal ended in the recycle bin. Poor paper proposal — the title might have been crap, but the rest wasn’t too bad.

I’m also pondering on what to write after I’ve finished expanding BETRAYAL. Actually, I’m not quite sure whether that book will really sell: it’s not that I don’t like the story (I do!), but the whole structure is rather unusual for a romance and besides, about a third of the story is set in Germany again. Hmmm. Anyways, what’s going to come after BETRAYAL? I’ve already got some ideas: I have, in fact, already written a synopsis (which my agent liked) for something called BLOOD AND STONE. It uses some characters from a much older book project of mine, CHILDREN OF THE DAWN, of which I only ever wrote the beginning and the ending (but it’s a great beginning and a great ending!) (naturally! *lol*), and a synopsis (at least I hope there’s still a synopsis somewhere!). I’ve always wanted to finish it, but always thought it might be too ambitious a project and that I didn’t yet have the skill to make the story sparkle. Perhaps this would be a great opportunity to finally tackle CHILDREN, especially since it would make more sense to write this book before B&S (because the ending of B&S sort of gives away the ending of CHILDREN). Hmmm. I need to think about this some more ….