Though I’m new to the novel writing “game,” I’ve been a professional writer for more than a decade. That’s how long I was a TV journalist before I left that career to start a family. But last year as I sat down to write my first book, The Big Lead, I realized that writing a fiction was a whole different kind of writing. And not just because I got to make up stuff instead of trying to double confirm facts on tight deadlines.
No, writing a novel is different because it’s so much more personal. I know that everything I write, whether it be about friendship, loss, love, or even murder (!), some people reading it might wonder whether the topic relates to my own life.
To be sure, I’ve drawn on things in my own life when writing—even if it’s just giving a character personality traits of someone I saw in line at Starbucks last week, or making sure I write a dog into the story so that the spirit of my first pet lives on. But holy cow. Hoe. Lee. Cow. Writing romance (and sex scenes) takes things to a different stratosphere! Which is funny—I never worried about anyone thinking I was a killer because I described a specific murder. But I worried that if I wrote about a specific sexual position, Rhonda the Reader might be out there somewhere wondering why I know so much about it anyways?
Ok, ok, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t actually Rhonda the Reader I was worried about. It was my mom. And my sister. And my dad, ew, yes, definitely my dad. Ole Rhonda probably isn’t wondering anything that specific about me the author, she’s hopefully just enjoying the story. But it’s slightly alarming to think that my kindergarten teacher might be curious about me based on what happens in a bedroom scene I’ve penned.
But as I’ve gotten more confident in my fictional storytelling capabilities, I’ve realized what really matters. My only hope as I write a book is that the reader devours it and really enjoys the story I’ve created. I’ve created. From nothing. A story with new people. People with quirky characteristics and funny families that you feel like you know. A story with new places. Places you can picture in your mind like you’ve worked, lived, or traveled there. And yes, a story with new loves. Loves that make you feel hot and bothered and nervous because you’ve been in similar situations.
Ah-ha! I knew it! You’ve been in similar situations. So maybe I’ll be wondering about YOU next time I write something scintillating in the bedroom. Or maybe I’ll just be happy knowing that you’re enjoying what I’ve written, because you’re not thinking of anything at all, except what’s happening on the page right under your nose.
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