... that I've been missing in action for the last couple of weeks. It's not that nothing has been happening, it's that I've been too busy to write about it.
Busy? What does a writer do all day?
I love the romantic novelist skit in Little Britain where Matt Lucas, as the terminally "blocked" Dame Sally Markham lies back on a sofa eating chocolates dictating a word at a time to her secretary. It's an image indelibly imprinted on the brain of most journalists. If only it were so.
Instead I sit on chair that has changed the shape of my derriere over the years and pound away at the keyboard. The last time my laptop was in the shop they replaced the keyboard out of kindness -- there wasn't a letter left. (Well, obvioiusly the numbers, but I have no use for them!) It wasn't that long ago, but they're look pretty bare again. If I actually have to look to check where the n and m are, I haven't a clue. If I didn't touch-type I'd be in real trouble!
Anyway... That's what I’ve been doing non-stop for the last two weeks. Keyboard pounding. Finishing the book. I haven’t read a book, seen more than half an hour of television, or had anything that could be described as a life.
My hero and heroine, Josie and Gideon, have had every last moment of it. Their story has consumed my own.
I’ve been getting up at 5 am to write when the world is quiet. No distant murmurings from a radio. No “I’m not going to disturb you but…” No sudden realisation that it’s Tuesday and I haven’t put the rubbish out.
Starting at 5 am, finishing at 5 pm when the brain is too numb to function, then falling asleep in front of the television day after day until the tiny pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel became brilliant sunshine. It happened on Wednesday, just around lunchtime. I wrote the last line – rather a good one I thought – and that it. Hero and heroine waved off into the sunset. Another great Harlequin Romance story told. Or very nearly.
My lovely ed is about to go on holiday so there was no time for a last read through. I just hit the send key and off it went, winging its way to Romance HQ. Then I sat there with a big smile of my face thinking, whew -- or something very much like it – before I emerged blinking into the daylight to discover that after weeks of incessant rain, the sun was shining. I stood there for a moment, not quite knowing what to do with myself. It’s like that when the story is done and you’ve been left behind by your characters. It takes a little while to come round, remember what it was I did before I started the book.
I started by reacquainting myself with the garden. Walking across the squelchy lawn to check what the beans are doing. Whether the hostas survived the slugs. Vowing that next year I'll only put daisies in my pots -- they don't care what the weather does, just sit there, shiny and fresh and gorgeous, whereas those poor petunias are fit for nothing but compost. Decided what I was going to do with the rest of the day. Or rather what I had to do -- all the things I'd left hanging for weeks. Pay the bills, pick up the tablecloth from the laundry, take back the overdue library books that I hadn't even read. Getting better, I love going to the library. Buy a birthday present for a treasured aunt. Maybe even a little chocolate. Yes!
I grabbed my bag and the car keys full of joy – mostly about the chocolate -- I had just reached the door when I remembered the leopard cubs.
Introduced in chapter one and supposed to make an appearance in chapter eleven. I'd forgotten all about them.
Oops, I said. Or something very like it, went back to the computer, opened my book document, typed “leopard cubs” at the top of the page, as a reminder for when I get edits. I nearly escaped before it occurred to me that something that might make more sense if Cryssie (she’s a minor character, but important) thinks that Josie and Gideon are already a couple. I made another note. And did Josie really get closure? Suppose I just…? And Gideon needs to say something else just there...
And… And… And… That’s the thing with a story, it’s never quite finished. Writing the book isn’t the hardest part. It’s letting go…
I finally got to the library yesterday, bought the chocolate, went for a drive in the country with the dh. Snatched a whole day for myself. Tomorrow it will belong to two other people. They don’t have names yet, but they have a story. And I'm the only one who can tell it.
Life. Writers do it vicariously.
Except ... just one thing. The lovely Donna Alward, ably abetted by Myrna Mackenzie has set up a Harlequin Romance Group Author Blog at eharlequin. From now on you'll find us there four or five times a week talking about the things that are important to us. Don't miss Susan Meier's post on branding. You'll find it here
I'm now back to the drawing board looking for a name for my hero. Bearing in mind that I already done this nearly sixty times before, I'm appealin for suggestions! My favourite will get a signed book from the backlist.