On the weekend, I had a bit of an epiphany. Well, more accurately, my awesome friend Bek dangled an epiphany in front of my eyes, and when I didn’t show the love immediately, she got out the metaphorical rubber mallet and hammered it between my eyes until I saw it for what it was – a bloody brilliant idea.
See, I’ve been struggling along, trying to write the third manuscript in my series, but the plot just hasn’t really come together. The characters I loved in the first and second have been insipid, uninspiring, unlikeable. And in the back of my mind has been the thought that, despite recent successes, my series may never be published. Which will mean that I’ll have been wasting my time on something that’s not really working anyway, rather than starting on something new that might.
The main problem has always been that ideas don’t come easily to me. They’re either slivers of ideas that are too unwieldy to be short stories but not well-developed enough to be novels. So I’ve just hidden behind the relative safety of characters I know and a kind-of plot direction.
So, back to my forced epiphany. I was talking to Bek on the phone when she said: ‘Why don’t you write a romance involving horses that’s set in the Adelaide Hills? You’re passionate about both and you know a lot about both.’
I was reluctant at first. This is partly because I spent my entire childhood and teenage years writing about and drawing horses, so I have this automatic cringe about going back to the topic, like I’ve failed at being a real adult.
Also, I suck at romance, both in writing and in real life. I found a nice guy when I was 20 and I stuck with him. We call each other ‘man’ rather than ‘honey’ or ‘babe’. Hence, I don’t really feel qualified to write a sweeping romantic saga.
But Bek, in her inimitable way, was having none of my piss weak excuses. By the end of our conversation, what she was saying started to make sense. I’d still made no decisions on what I was going to do, but I did realise that starting something else didn’t mean abandoning the other manuscript. It wasn’t going anywhere, and even if I’m lucky enough to have my series picked up, there’s two that come before the one I’ve been struggling with. Plenty of time (theoretically) to come back to it later. And if it doesn’t, I’ll have something else ready to go.
Then, after we hung up, something weird happened. I started having ideas. Images flitted through my mind, outrageous characters (because horse people really are quite nutty), dark secrets, action scenes, stunning vistas. Within 24 hours, I had a full story arc, complete with sub plots, in my head and at least partly articulated.
THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE.
I’ve started to write, and I’m still making adjustments to characters and plot in my mind, but it’s going well so far. It’s shaping up to be less of a romance than I’d thought, which makes me feel a little more comfortable with it too.
I’m not expecting it to be easy. Sadly, my days of seven week first drafts are probably behind me. But I have a good feeling about this one. I’m writing what I know, and I think that will really make a difference to the authenticity of the story.