(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write for myself or my readers?
(Rhonda) The initial idea of a story appeals to me because it sparks my interest. The plot and characters get me excited and make me want to get to crank out a few chapters. While I’m in the process of writing, naturally I hope that my books will appeal to readers. My hope is that what gives me enjoyment will also prove enjoyable to someone else. Every writer has heard the advice: write what you know. I also think it’s a good idea to write what you enjoy. Chances are, if you are intrigued by your story, someone else will be too.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Are there days I hate writing?
(Rhonda) To me, writing is very similar to working out. It’s such a process to go to the gym. First I have to psych myself up mentally and nix every excuse that pops into my imagination (and I have a very active imagination!) I have to physically prepare by putting on my gym clothes. Then I have to drive to the facility, a very time intensive five-minute drive. But when I’m there, bopping along on the elliptical machine, good music or book playing in my ear, I’m engaged and grateful to be there. I’m grateful to be able to work out, to feel my heart pumping and my muscles working.
The same goes for writing. It’s difficult to open my laptop and write, especially when I feel as though I don’t have any fresh ideas to move the story forward. However, once I get over the psychological barriers and re-read my last chapter, ideas and dialogue bombard (okay, maybe bombard is too strong a word), drift into my consciousness, slowly but surely. Once I’m writing, it’s like the starter gun at a horse race has fired. And she’s off!
Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, How would I be dressed while writing?
(Rhonda) Forget what you’ve heard about diamonds, pajamas are a girl’s best friend. At least they’re this writer’s best friend.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What things would inspire me?
(Rhonda) Good writing inspires me. Not just books either. Sometimes I can tune into a favorite show like The Walking Dead or Homeland and be inspired to get to my laptop. While my books are romance and contemporary women’s fiction, I am inspired by smart writing, character development, and human flaws that are well-captured by writers. Even comedies inspire me to write. The Golden Girls is hands down my favorite comedy because the writing is so darned clever.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I consider writing a job, a vocation, a hobby, or a passion?
(Rhonda) Writing is a passion and vocation. I have to write. Most writers don’t make enough money to live off of their book sales. At this point in my career, I’m one of them. However, even if I never sell enough books to write full-time, I will always write. The adage Do what you love and the money will follow, may bear fruit someday. Then again, it may not. It brings me joy to create characters, to write funny dialogue, to get my characters into trouble and out again. I hope my readers can see the passion I have for my vocation.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I take manuscript rejections well. And how do I feel about reviews, both good and not-so-good?
(Rhonda) The last rejection letter I received from a literary agent was just prior to my receiving a book contract from The Wild Rose Press. When I read the rejection letter in my email, I cried tears of joy. Weird, right? Most rejection letters are stock letters that say the agent didn’t feel passionately enough about the work to best represent it, et cetera. This rejection letter was personal. It was an in-depth four-paragraph letter that explained what wasn’t working in that particular manuscript. What that told me was: 1) the agent actually read the entire manuscript, 2) the agent thought my writing was solid enough to continue reading, 3) the agent thought I was a capable enough writer to take the very specific criticism, understand it, and modify it if I so chose. The rejection letter made me feel as if I was truly a writer. I was grateful for it.
As for reviews, I do skim the reviews and believe that both good and bad criticism should be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone wants praise, but if you take the praise to heart, then what does that mean about the negative criticism? Everyone has an opinion. Some will love what others will loathe. By the time I’m done with a book, beta readers and editors have read it and I’ve edited it to within an inch of its life. If I believe in the work, then I have to let the chips fall where they may.