Letting Go

In the wee small hours of the morning, I sent my final edits of Brave in Heart to the folks at Crimson. There’s one more copyedit stage, but that’s only for egregious, but minor, problems — typos, spelling errors, and so on.

Once I hit “send,” I sighed and smiled. I recognized that the feeling flooding my limbs had a name. Relief. And I enjoyed it for about twenty seconds before gasping panic expelled it from my body.

You mean this book I started writing a year ago doesn’t get to change again…ever? You mean that I’m stuck with these words in this order for the rest of time?

But, but, maybe I did want to put that “that” back in? Maybe the dialogue could use more — or fewer — speaker tags? Maybe I need more internal monologues? What about all the deleted scenes? Maybe there’s something good in there? Will that material never see the light of day?

This is it — my debut book. And it’s done? This is the book that will convince people to read — or not — all my other books. Holy closet full of sneakers. And now it’s out of my hands?

I’m not sure how to turn off the fear and the doubts and the second guesses. Or rather, I know, but I’m not quite ready to do it.

I don’t think of my texts as my babies. Perhaps because I tend to have a lot of projects in various cooking stages at once, I don’t feel intense attachment and defensiveness about any one of them. I can take a fairly intense critique. I don’t think bad reviews will hurt too much as long as they aren’t personal. While I love this book, I’m aware of it’s weaknesses.

At the same time, I’ve never had a fiction project be over before. As in done. As in fixed. As in captured in amber.

So while I know that I need to get back to the other books I’m writing — not to mention my still-unfinished dissertation! — I’m going to be over here hyperventilating for another minute.

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5 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Congratulations! I am really looking forward to a Civil War era romance! American history is a special love for me and there aren’t enough historical romances that are not westerns. (Not that I don’t also like westerns — but I find one has to look harder for 18th century and Civil War American settings).

    • Thank you! Underneath the panic, I’m very pleased. I agree that it’s a interesting period with so much potential for good conflict. I enjoyed researching and writing the book a great deal.

      I think romance writers avoid the Civil War because of the politics. Many white people held deplorable views and representing racial and class difference is difficult. Gone with the Wind is an important book for the genre’s development, but it’s also a very, very problematic one. While Brave in Heart sort of sidesteps representational issues in that it’s set in Connecticut and the hero and heroine are anti-slavery, the rest of the books in the series are going to confront the politics head-on and it’s more difficult to write that honestly and palatably.

      The sequel, which I’m writing now, is set in DC in 1863, the hero is a southerner, the heroine is trying to help to the freed slave population and getting an education in the limits of sentimentalism, etc. My plan is for the next two books to feature non-white heroes/heroines. But none of this is very mainstream in historical romance, which is so focus on white characters in Regency Britain who never seem to acknowledge race or class divides.

      In terms of a good colonial/revolutionary romance, I read and enjoyed Donna Thorland’s The Turncoat over the weekend. It made me wish for more books from that era.

      • I will have to check out The Turncoat – I do love the revolutionary period! Again, kudos to you for tackling the complexity of the Civil War period in a romance novel — I agree that GWTW may cast such a long shadow, both as an iconic romance and as an emblem of Southern racism, that it may be part of the reason there are fewer historical romances set in the period. Did you read The Wind Done Gone, which stirred up a dust storm of controversy a few years ago?

  2. I haven’t read The Wind Done Gone, but I loved Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (which retells Jane Eyre from Bertha Mason’s POV). I really like all of Beverly Jenkin’s Civil War-era romances, including Indigo, and she’s been a bit of an inspiration to me.

    • Thanks for the tip about Beverly Jenkins.

      I love Wide Sargasso Sea! Jane Eyre is my “touchstone” book. :-)

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