Thursday, February 16, 2017

Romance "on-demand?"

Inspiration hits for another romance!
Not long ago, I was with my husband at a memorial for one of his cousins.  I don't believe I ever met her, though he thought I might have.  She was a couple of years older than the two of us, but still was taken far too early.

It was interesting talking to so many of his cousins, many of whom I don't know.  Some I've developed friendships with, though I don't know their siblings much.  At one point, when people were getting up to say a few words about the deceased, her significant other got up to speak.  His voice was strong at first, then broke as he continued.  Seems he's a plumber, and got sent to her house when she had some clogged pipes (ahem). They hit it off, one thing led to another, and he moved into her house not too long after that.

I teared up as he finished, as did many of us.  One of her brothers, a cowboy-hat-wearing guy with pointy boots and a gray pony tail, leaned over to me and said in a loud whisper, "So now you know, that's what you should write about next!  This was a real  love story!  It needs to be told and shared."

I was shocked, to say the least.  We had spoken briefly before that, and it turns out that his cousins who knew me, had shared with him that I write romance novels.  He was a bit patronizing, in the, "Oh?  You little women still like reading that kind of crap?  I suppose someone has to write it.  Buy you have an English degree also?  Can't you think of anything better to write about, other than porn for bored housewives?"

There are so many things wrong with that attitude that I was speechless.  Then I tried to avoid him, so I wouldn't get goaded by him into engaging in what would surely turn ugly...and after all, it wasn't MY family, and it WAS a memorial.

But really?  Only women (of any size, really, not just those he would diminish by calling "little") read "that sort of crap?"  I've been contacted by men who have read and enjoyed my books...and my husband and one son both told me they did also.  And what's with the demeaning attitude, that, what, only stupid women write romance, so an obviously well-educated woman like me should write something more, what, uplifting? I think at one point I did manage to mention briefly that I'm also a Mensa member.  Genius IQ, top 2% world-wide.  Not that I was bragging (much), but guys like him make me want to punch them!

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the time trying to avoid him.  Husband helped, since he sensed an imminent explosion.  He's a wise man.

But afterwards I got to thinking about a couple of things I should have said to him.  Like, "If you think your sister's love story is such a great narrative, why don't you write it?  Should be easy for a big guy like you.  After all, women write romances all the time, so how hard can it be?" And the other thing was what I really said briefly to him before I excused myself to visit the powder room: "That's not how things work with writers...at least not with me.  My muse doesn't write 'on-demand.'  She gets inspired by things I'm not even aware of, then give me stories, sometimes in dreams, sometimes when I'm not looking for them, like when I'm driving. It's like lightning striking...you never know when it's going to hit.  But it's never because I planned on writing any particular story. You can't force inspiration."

How about you?  Can you make demands on your muse?  Does she or he "produce" for you when you want her/him to do so? Am I the only one whose muse is capricious? 

To read more about my books, visit my website: http://www.fionamcgier.com.
My plan is to update it soon...when I get some time off.  Hey, spring break is coming up soon, right? 


Tina Donahue said...

Considering cretins like this LOVE Duck Dynasty, real porn (no story just sex) football, and other mindless crap, it's a miracle he could string two sentences together.

He should write his sister's grand love story. Wait. Does he know how to read and write?

Fiona McGier said...

I don't know, Tina. But seriously, can you make yourself write something that you are told to write? Or does it have to come from your muse? I'm really wondering about this. Am I the only one who waits for inspiration? Should I be trying to force myself to write when I'm not inspired?

I guess this is axiomatic to wondering if I should write what sells now, which is apparently still gazillionaires and virgins. If you want to read a very hot, very well-written one that stands the usual trope on it's ear, try Lisabet Sarai's The Gazillionaire and the Virgin, in which the rich, successful person is the woman, and the virgin is a nerdy genius she wants to hire for her company. Humor and lots of hot sex!

But my muse doesn't like uneven power-stories that have one person very experienced and the other a newbie. My muse likes when two consenting adults are the actors. IF I could just force her to produce on demand, I might get more writing done. At least during the summer, when I'm only working one job.

Tina Donahue said...

To answer your question about writing on demand, Fiona, yeah - I do it all the time. When I'm invited to contribute to boxsets, there are usually themes the participants want to stick to. This year, so far, I've written an older woman romance (she just turned 40 - not really old, but not the typical twentysomething, early thirties romance), a cowboy one, a BDSM one, one about a redhead (all the stories had to have a redhead), and more.

Do I wait for inspiration from my muse? No. I have to write to eat so my muse works for me, not the other way around. Long ago, I trained myself to write about everything and to make it mine by incorporating stuff I like into the story. For example, romantic comedy is my strong point. No matter what I write - contemporary, paranormal, suspense, etc., there's always humor in it. I also like modern issues that women struggle against - misogyny, sexism, etc. I also incorporate that into my stories to make them mine.

Years ago, an individual asked me if I write when the muse hits me. I asked that person if she fed her kids when she felt like it - or did she do it on a regular basis because it was her job. Writing's my job. I do it everyday whether I'm composing, revising or plotting a new work.

I lost the starry-eyed thing about writing early on. It's still magical to me when I'm writing, but it's a job.

Fiona McGier said...

Thanks for the response, Tina. Unfortunately my bills need to be paid regularly, and I don't make enough on my writing to devote that much time to it. Originally I'd hoped I could quit my 3rd, and 2nd jobs to work "only" 1 job, and do my writing. But I guess I never devoted enough time to the promotions, so my royalties have been pitiful. Husband pointed out that we need to pay bills all of the time, and my time is better spent working an actual job that pays every two weeks. So I quit the 3rd job after the year we had 3 kids in college at once, and now I work 2 jobs during the school year, resulting in 13-hour days Mon, Tues and Wed. Thurs, Fri and Sat I only work 1 job, but that's when I have haircuts, doctor apts, and other errands to do, including weekly grocery shopping for 4 people.

I'd love to be able to write more, but reality for me is that I need regular paychecks. I'm a teacher, so both jobs involve children and teaching them. But I do miss my writing.

I look forward to summer when I'm only working 1 job. But husband was laid off a month ago, so I may need to find some kind of crappy retail job for the summer also, to contribute more to the bills. So for now, the stories in my head will have to stay there. Sigh...