Making Me FEEL
This post starts with a couple of confessions. The first is that I'm super awkward when it comes to meeting famous people. The second is that I haven't been reading much in the last couple of years. You might wonder what these things have to do with one another, but hang in there. I swear I'll get to it.
So I had the honor of meeting with my mentor from the RAMP program from the Romance Writers of America. Her name is Annika Martin (also writes as Carolyn Crane, I'll call her Carolyn in any blog posts moving forward). We had a lovely video chat and she's smart, funny, friendly, and kind. She's already given me great advice and was really understanding when I was like "hey, I'm about to have colon surgery...mind if we hold off our start?" And while I think I held it together fairly well and didn't ramble too terribly, it still was in the back of my head **she's FAMOUS**. Even though I hadn't read any of her books (YET, that's coming) I was hyper aware that there were many fans out there who'd DIE to be chatting casually with her like I was. And I'm sure some of the nerves were first-date-energy of meeting a new person and trying to get across that I'm cool and likeable; attempting to credential myself as worthy of sitting at the table without sounding like, as my husband would say, "the my-uncle-has-a-Lamborghini kid at school".
In the end, the meeting went well and we've shared some emails where I feel like we're building a great working relationship and I'm looking forward to her feedback on my manuscript and advice for pitching, queries, and the path to achieving my goals. But here's were I gum up the works. Because I've started reading Carolyn's books and I'm a fan now. Like, kinda Beatlemania level. So I'm about to gush, knowing full well that she may read this and I'll have to try even harder to remind myself, "BE COOL, BE COOL" the next time we meet.
Ever since I started writing my own books, my reading has lessened considerably. It's mostly a time thing (only enough time in the day for one or the other). Sometimes when I'm really blocked, I'll free up the log jam by reading. If I read something great, it'll inspire me and if it's awful, it'll motivate me knowing I can do better. But all of this reading since starting to write has been done with an analytical eye. I haven't been swept up in ages. It's like watching movies after the first time you work on a movie set, you just don't see it the same. You've watched the sausage being made.
And then I read (actually am still reading) Most Eligible Billionaire. Here's a link if you want to buy it. And if you like contemporary romance (or just good reading) you should. This book made me FEEL stuff when I read it. I wasn't thinking about character development, dialogue, plot, etc. I was feeling real and palpable pangs in my chest for the pain of a character's past, and getting wrapped up in how much the characters cared about one another. I stayed up late reading like I used to when I was a tween, unable to put the book down. And as I get further into it, I've slowed down, trying to savor the book so it won't end. I know that after I finish, I'll have that empty feeling of not having those characters in my life anymore. Like the emptiness you feel when a close friend moves away.
I'm so thankful to my mentor for giving me this experience. While it did give me the usual neurotic writer response of "my book has NONE of this magic!", the good news is that I'm working with the author who knows how to make that kind of magic. And that, while learning craft and sweating the details is important, telling a compelling story and making your readers FEEL is a big part of the job. Which, for someone who is, let's say, not weighed down with an overabundance of craft knowledge, is reassuring in a way. It also gives me something to strive for. I want to make people feel the way I felt reading this book.
I'm about to have lots of time (I think, not sure how it will go) to work on putting FEELS and MAGIC into my manuscript as I'm having that aforementioned surgery this Thursday and will be out of commission for 4-6 weeks. Similar to working on a cruise ship or living in quarantine, it'll either kill all writing and blogging productivity or I'll be crushing it with tons of new content. Keep your fingers crossed it's the crushing it option!