Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stopping and Starting

I didn’t stop completely, but my writing became more spasmodic as ‘real life’ got in the way. My husband and I divorced in the 70’s when my daughters were 6 and 4, so I was a single parent with a full-time teaching job.

A couple of rejections by Mills and Boon in the 80’s were not unexpected because their format had changed and I had absolutely no empathy with domineering males who virtually raped wimpy females to tame them. Not my scene at all!

I didn’t have the time either to research other publishers, so apart from a few short stories at the beginning of the 90’s, I stopped writing fiction.

It’s probably also true to say that when a five-year relationship ended in the early 90’s, I was not in best frame of mind to write romances that had happy endings!

I turned instead to writing articles for the UK Girl Guiding magazine. After my first series of articles, I had my own ‘slot’ in the magazine for about 5 years.

My return to fiction writing was unpremeditated and totally unexpected. As a fan of the ‘The West Wing’, I made contact with other fans and one of them introduced me to fanfiction. She and I exchanged long emails about our favourite characters, Jed and Abbey, and from these came an idea for a story. I started to write it and, almost before I knew it, I was back in the swing of fiction again, with – eventually - an 80,000 word story. I wrote it ‘by the seat of my pants’ and discovered again the joy of characters who took me along with them. I just started with a basic idea, and the whole thing developed from that. Of course, the characters were already there for me, and it helped being able to hear the voices of Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing in my head, as well as the other actors in the show.

I had no intention of ever ‘publishing’ it, but another friend finally persuaded me to post it on one of the West Wing yahoo lists. I was nervous – this was my first venture into fiction for many years, but the response I got from members of the list encouraged me and helped to rebuild my confidence.

I went on to write 4 more West Wing stories, one of which is still ongoing. Another friend, with far more computer know-how than I have, has put them on to the site and I’ve had complimentary feedback there too.

I still had no thoughts of writing anything other than West Wing fanfiction – until I went on an American Civil War battlefields tour in 2008. Also on the tour was a best-selling Harlequin writer, Linda Lael Miller, who was doing the tour as part of her research for a Civil War trilogy. She and I talked a lot during the week and her encouragement made me think about writing novels again.

When I got home, I dug out one of the old novels I’d written in the 80’s and decided to re-vamp and update it. It developed into a very different story from my original effort, another example of the characters taking over.

Since then – well, I’ve been writing constantly – and enjoying every minute of it (well, almost!)

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