Writing Wrongs

March 07, 2006

So Mary started the trend of talking about your first book, then Marianne weighed in. It took me a short long time to write my first book.

What’s a short long time? The short part came when I started it, not so much on a lark, but because I wanted a particular type of book I couldn’t find on the shelves.

I wanted something adventurous and romantic, something with more serious bad guys than say Romancing the Stone, but in that vein. I wasn’t wild about angst-filled mystery protagonists, or romance heroines who wouldn’t shoot the bad guy when he really needed to be shot, and things like that. So I took a lot of what I disliked about both genres and changed it to suit me.

No wonder no one wanted it.

I learned a lot writing that book. At first, I played around with it. Then I got more serious, decided this was something I might want to go back and read at some point. A little later on, I knew there was a gap between what I was writing and the quality of what I liked to read. That’s when I decided to take a few online classes. Not long after that, I met D.

I used scenes and whatnot from the book as writing assignments. Then I ran into a problem. People actually wanted to read more. And I knew without being told that some parts weren’t redeemable or even fit for human consumption.

So began the long road to making the whole thing passably readable. And that part wasn’t easy. I essentially ditched most of a 98,000-word draft and started over, with character sketches, plot outline, in-depth research. I get tired just thinking about it.

Over the course of about four years, I reworked the book into something agents and editors requested, one that made the finals of more than a few contests, including the Golden Heart. I ended up with a trip to NYC from the deal for the RWA Conference in 2003 (for the Golden Heart). I learned about the publishing industry and how to navigate it.

So, all in all, not bad for a first book. No, it won’t ever be published. I realized sometime last year what was off with the pacing. I knew how to fix it and even did a rough cut edit on the manuscript. I sat down with every intention of doing a new revision.

Then I hit that first bit of information that had required in-depth research. No one wants a contemporary book with outdated research. And mine was. Even to verify that nothing had changed (and I knew some of it had) would take a significant amount of time.

Did I want to invest in that? Or did I want to write something else?

Something else won.

But you know, I don’t regret a minute spent on it. If not for it, I wouldn’t have been able to write the second book, or the fifth. They say you have to pay your dues somehow. I can’t think of a better way than spending time with a charming, if unrepentant, art thief and the spunky soldier girl who gives him a run for his money.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 11:56 a.m.