Monday, September 5, 2011

Returning to Another World

Laurie's Journal

My crazy crunch time at work is finally over, and I can now return from my world of projections, strategic plans and expenditure analyses to spend more time in my favorite place--my writing universe.

*happy, happy dance* 

I'm also returning to a planet I left behind four years ago when I shelved a favorite project in favor of two manuscripts I thought might be more marketable. (In hindsight, that was probably a big mistake, but you know the saying about hindsight and visual acuity).

Reopening Katrina's story is like a homecoming of sorts. Sometimes you can go back again...at least in the fictional world...and this realm and its characters will always hold a special place in my heart.

Let me share a little story behind the story.

In the mid-90's I was actively marketing several romance novels and I was getting requests, but as is the challenge in this business, no takers. I eventually got discouraged--extremely discouraged. In 1997, I strayed away from my trusty keyboard and the months became years, and the years soon turned into almost a decade. Meanwhile, I was distracted by a series of other pursuits including a business venture raising Thoroughbreds, a five-year stint as a reserve law enforcement officer, and a hold-down-the-fort battle (and it was a real battle at times) running a small ranch while my husband was on a series of deployments with the military for five years. During this time, my novels lay dormant on my computer, gathering the equivalent of electronic dust, and the yet-to-be-written stories still in my head receded into the dark places in my mind that seldom see the light of day.

Then, on a lonely Halloween night in 2006, I had an epiphany--and a lot of help getting back on track.

David was still on deployment and for some reason (call it karma) I was possessed to sit down and spend my evening watching a Lord of the Rings marathon. Funny thing about that. I detested those movies prior to that night. I found them long, dull and boring. But for some reason this particular night...I "got" them. The underlying themes spoke to me about mythic quests, perilous adventure and tests of the heart. And the themes weren't the only ones talking. The characters of this world--that long forgotten epic in my head--started whispering in my ear, tapping my shoulder and tugging on my shirttails. And they were very insistant.

They said, "If the world is ever going to know our story, you need to tell it...while there's still time."

A stroke of inspiration led me to sit down at my computer the next morning and start pounding away on the keys. Within a few months, I had written 90% of the first draft. All the while, I beat myself up for ever abandoning my writing. My God, I'd lost an entire decade! How could I have become so distracted? Why did I let so much precious time pass?

At RWA this year, a panel of well-known authors was asked if they had their careers to do all over again, what would they do differently. One replied that he'd have started writing much earlier. But Diane Gabaldon said something that really struck a chord with me. She said she wouldn't have had the life experience to write the books she'd written if she'd started earlier. Amen, sister.  And *lightbulb!*

Things happens for a reason.

To everything, there is a season. (Turn, turn, turn)

In that moment, I realized I hadn't finished this novel before now because I wasn't prepared to finish it. I no longer resent that decade as lost time. Now I'm grateful for it.

Although two other novels managed to bump this story out of line to be completed first, I've now returned to the world I love so well and the characters that are probably responsible for my second chance at a writing career. I've come home to Draxis, and this time, I'm bringing to the table a very valuable commodity that may have been lacking before--a whole lot of life experience.

Now...*drum roll please*...I have some great news to relate that provided me with a fresh burst of incentive. Draxis (under a working title) just finaled in its first contest! *\o/*

Now you'll have to excuse me because I really need to get back to work.  :)

(To be continued...) 

6 comments:

  1. That is EXACTLY the kind of epiphany I had! It reminded me of that quote from Bladerunner (which is doing the rounds on twitter lately I've noticed) about 'all those moments will be lost now, like tears in the rain' - if I didn't get a move on and write those stories, no one would ever know about them and they'd all die with me. But as for turning back the clock - yep, I agree with Diane. As much as I would have loved to have done this ten, maybe fifteen years ago, I don't believe I had the experiences or maturity to write what I do now.
    And congrats on the contest. :)

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  2. I don't know, ladies, I have a few years on y'all and I'd gladly give up a little life experience to have a few of those years back! :-) I was definitely a late bloomer, and sometimes it feels like I'm running out of time to accomplish the goals I've set for myself. But I guess that's what I get for thinking I had all the time in the world when I was in my twenties, huh?

    And though I can't imagine EVER not liking LOTR, I'm glad you found your groove with it. There's a lot of inspiration to be found there. Obviously, the same themes resonated with the contest judges, too. Congrats!

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  3. OOh Congrats, Laurie!!!!!!!!
    And I'm looking forward to reading the end of Draxis - in the nicest possible way.

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  4. Hi Pippa. I think it's difficult for a non-writer to understand the sheer will of those characters who live in our heads as very real people. I wonder if some writers' success isn't due to sheer determination to succeed so much as the insistant voices in their head. LOL

    Donna, I used to be very uptight about all the time I "lost." Now I'm okay with it and thinking maybe things are unfolding in my career exactly as they were meant to unfold. We shall see.

    Hi Barbara. I'm anxious for you to read "the rest of the story" too, and hopefully a much improved storyline leading up to it. :)

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  5. Way to go! Thanks for sharing your journey.

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