I was reading a lovely inspirational post about “The Book of My Heart” by Beth Revis and I was thinking how my “book of my heart” was thrust upon me circumstantially. Sometimes the book chooses the writer.
No, it doesn’t. *snerk* That’s just the sort of fortune cookie crap that I put in my “book of my heart”.
Our first books are often the book of our hearts and, if you’re like me, you wrote it and rewrote it over the course of several years, stumbling and learning along the way.
I signed up for a romance writing class on a whim and to find some balance in my life while teaching. At that point, I wasn’t really serious about writing for publication. I’d done it on and off as a hobby. I actually loved reading historical romance and felt those were the books where I really felt my heartstrings getting pulled and I really cared what happened to the characters.
My brother-in-law warned me that I better have a project in mind before going to the class. He made that mistake of going to a writing class thinking he’d just absorb what was being taught. Then the first day, the instructor went around and had everyone say what they were working on. He blurted out something about a women’s fiction book involving two girls and their journey to becoming nuns. And that’s the novel he’s been stuck with trying to write for years and years.
Sure enough, Day 1 the instructor asked everyone what project they were working on. Crap. The only thing I had was a fantasy novel idea I’d played around with that was inspired by the Chinese Tang Dynasty. So I said I was thinking of this East meets West fantasy where a western warrior goes to an Asian empire and meets a princess, not at all realizing that:
1) How frickin’ crazy that was for the romance genre at the time
2) It pretty much sounds like one of those B-movie plots you see late at night
3) And it’s also pretty much the plot of Star Wars…which was the plot of The Hidden Fortress. And then it got rehashed again in the Star Wars prequels more obviously with white girls dressed in Asian costumes.
I ended up writing on a far-fetched, derivative, cheesy and overdone premise for the next two and half years. Tack on another couple rewrites and I’ve probably close to four years on it. It’s the book of my heart because no other book has hurt so much. Love is pain.
Along the way, I did more research. I learned more stuff about craft and genre. The idea morphed a little with each rewrite. I look upon that book with great fondness. It was more than a learning experience. It is the book that still inspires me and I aspire to be worthy of it. It was crappy. It was glorious. The life blood of that book still runs through everything I write.
I still haven’t sold that first book. I did however, sell the two sequels: Butterfly Swords and The Dragon and the Pearl.
A tear for the forever incomplete trilogy.