Nixed

Yes, my replacement partial, Hard Up, was told to tuck itself back into my hard drive--which I suppose is the literary equivalent of blue balls--for the time being. My editor, Sulay, handled this all with professional candor and a sense of humor. I'm sure it's hard for her to tell me "No" as hard as it is for me to hear it, but she knows she can be honest with me. This is why I love working with her. She wants me to challenge myself as a writer and is willing to stand by me while I muddle through this.

When it came down to it, she had to say no for the two reasons I knew she would have to. Since I'm in the women's fiction category over at Touchstone, they're worried women won't be able to relate to a male protagonist. Adding to that, she (and they) are looking for and expecting something very special to follow up on More Than This (Touchstone, Aug. '08).

This is where I'm having problems. I can't write another More Than This or even conceive of another story in the same vein. I don't do love stories. I write about people who have maybe been in real love or at least some close approximation and it hasn't worked out too well or at all. MTT is a love story but it takes place before the actual relationship between the two characters, Evelyn and Alexander, starts. They don't even say so much as "hello" to each other and that's why it works. It's the eternal "what if" scenario. And we all can probably guess what will happen after they do say hello--either it's going to work out or it's not. Keeping them apart is like relationship foreplay and where, as far as I'm concerned, all the fun is. The rest is just...work.

Just like that show 'Say Yes to the Dress' on Lifetime. I watch it because finding the wedding dress is the best part of the whole wedding planning process. Everything else is just headaches and disappointments with periods of delirious happiness that leave you exhausted and in debt. I'd rather watch gals try on poufy dresses and leave the rest of the wedding process, dealing with catering bills and drunk wedding guests, to another show...that I won't watch.

But back to reality...I need to turn in a book to fulfill my contract and, more importantly, I want to write one that will make us all happy. Sulay, being the more rational of us, asked me to take a good look at my collection of ideas and think about what would make me happy as a writer and would have a chance of making it beyond her desk. (For the record, she liked Hard-Up but had to pass on it because of the above very valid business reasons.)

So scrolled through my cluttered Idea folder and I dug up a document I had typed years ago and kept pushing further down the list as other things caught my attention. I used it as the basis for a short story I wrote around last Christmas as part of blog tour and ever since then, it's been in the back of my mind as something I should consider paying proper attention to. I gave my pitch sheet a good long think to make sure there is a story and concept there I can live with for as long as it takes me to turn it into a novel. Then I reread the short story I wrote and realized I actually had fun not only writing it, but reading it, too.

Here's my one sentence hook: "Betti doesn't have time for a love life--she's too busy trying to fix everyone else's." Simple, right? My premise, the theme of the book, is even more to the point: "Love has produced some heroes, but also some idiots." It's interpenetration of a Danish proverb and it sums up what Betti thinks about love. It's good for some folks, but maybe not so much for her. I think/hope this idea has the elements both myself, Sulay and her bosses are looking for.

For now all I can do is wait, something you get really good at when you're a writer.

2 comments:

Skydoll said...

Oh no! I loved what I read of HARD UP! It was great! I've mentioned this before and I will mention it again, read the book Disappearing Acts by Terry Mccmillan - not the movie, the book - because she does an amazing male voice (LIKE YOU!) AS WELL AS a fantastic female voice (LIKE YOU). As your assistant manager, I say you mix it up and do both book ideas! Please, go to B&N and read the first two chapters of Disappearing Acts and you will see what I mean. I think you will not only get inspired, but find you could have a lot of fun alternating such different voices. WRITE IT FOR ME!

** Seriously people, what I read was really good, and you're going to want to read it, too **

Heather
Who should be working on her own book. :)

Margo Candela said...

You are too kind, but you're right. I'm not going to stick (ahem) Hard Up back into my hard drive (double ahem) and forget about it. It'll be the next thing I work on...once I find out if I'll be working on the thing I'm supposed to be working on. Once that's done, I'm free and clear to let my fingers wander where they want to. I'll check out the book recommendation, too. Thanks, Heather!