Thea Devine today. I’m working on a variety things, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the book I haven’t written. We all have one of those, the one you started, wrote, rewrote, set aside, tackled again, fell into a rut long before the middle, and packed away because you knew you were absolutely going to finish it — someday. I think mine is buried in the attic right now just because I’m itching to get my hands on it and of course, Murphy’s Law, I can’t.
I started this book back when I was working for that big multi-national advertising agency I wrote about previously. In fact, nearly everyone in the copy department, when they weren’t working on copy, was writing a book. I had no idea what I was doing — I was maybe twenty-three or four. I just loved to write and the intermittent stabs I made at writing advertising copy petered into one interesting idea one of my bosses used in a tv commercial she pitched which ultimately got shot down.
So definitely not copywriter material (remember I was very young). But a book … that was a whole other story.
There was small branch library across the street from where I worked, and there I came across a pictorial history that piqued my interest. From that I devised a scenario with an unconventional heroine, her male friend, a missing family member (little did I know then that I had one too), an ambitious father, a prim and proper older sister, the daughter of a family friend who comes to stay with the heroine’s family, a housekeeper with a mysterious past, a stranger in town who falls for the heroine, and the town madam.
Sounds promising, right? I had NO idea how to write it. I started with the heroine and her male friend on an adventure, but that seemed to go nowhere. I wrote a prologue with the missing family member, a brother, which made more sense, but then what? Okay, so what about the daughter of the family friend? Or better yet, what about the interconnections between the families, and why was the old friend’s daughter even there? Yikes. Now I had to go back and account for that somehow, but if I did that, I’d throw some other plot points off kilter.
So — send the family friend daughter back to her father. But then, the only ones the heroine is at odds with are her sister and her father and maybe the housekeeper. I also had the mystery of the long-gone brother permeating everything, because the heroine wouldn’t let go of the hope he’d return someday. Well, okay. But what if he didn’t?
Put the mss aside for a bit. And then — start the story with the stranger coming to town who will fall for the heroine. How do they meet? Should they meet? What’s his business in town anyway? Is he a good guy or is he dangerous? Did I really have to know all that before I started writing about it?
You bet. And worse, as I continued flailing along, the daughter of the family friend started taking over the story. She was beautiful, greedy, outspoken — that girl could have been the heroine but that wasn’t how I envisioned the story. I wanted unconventional girl to be the heroine. She flouted conventions. She was at odds with her family. She had more at stake. Wait — what did I mean by that? So time to put the thing down and think about it some more.
So I thought about it some more — like, oh, 40 years, and now, even though there are days I don’t think I know what I’m doing, I do think I finally know how to write this book. I think it could be pretty good.
I could be wrong.
I still haven’t found the original mss pages I wrote, but I do remember the plot points. I’m thinking I should just start all over, divef in and see what happens. We all should start all over and see what happens.
After all, we all know how to write it now.
Do you have a book you haven’t written? Or you want to write? Or never want to tackle ever, even though the idea of the story haunts you?
Thea Devine is working on her next erotic contemporary romance (and peripherally the book she hasn’t written). Her sequel to The Darkest Heart. Beyond the Night, will be a September 2013 Pocket Star release.