Romance Report 3

Featuring Jane Porter

It’s a new year, and appropriately I’m starting a new book even as I do revisions on a book turned in late December.  I’m most excited about the new book because I’m not really writing it yet, just thinking about it a lot, and thinking about what I’m going to write is in so many ways more satisfying than what I’ll actually write when I start the real writing next week. 


Because real writing is hard, and the first draft of anything is far less complex and interesting than the final version that goes to publication.  And the final draft has had so many layers and tweaks, edits and revisions that its an entirely different beast than the first time you sit down to write page one, chapter one. 

The problem is, I forget this.  The problem is, I get so excited by the prospect of starting something new that I forget how much work a book is, and how hard the challenge is, and how much I struggle while writing.  I forget that the rich story I crave, and the multi-faceted characters I eventually create, don’t happen right away.  In fact, they only happen weeks and months later through much blood, sweat, and tears. 

New beginnings never take into account the blood, sweat, and tears. 

New beginnings are filled with optimism and eagerness, energy and boundless enthusiasm.  New beginnings are also soon met by blank pages, blank stares, and blank ideas.  As it turns out, all the wonderful ideas I mulled over, all the pre-writing and brainstorming don’t equal real writing—the writing where you actually write, the process where you’re glued to your desk for hours at a time battling for words, laboriously laying each sentence down one measly syllable at a time.  That’s the writing that gives birth to a book, and divides the amateurs from the pros.  Discipline, confidence, courage.  I know now new starts are exciting but soon frustrating as enthusiasm gives way to the weary realization that I’ve months of work ahead of me.  Months of concentration.  Months of struggle.  Months of decision-making.  Months of self-doubt. 

But this is what writing is, and this is what the writer’s life requires.  Determination.  Discipline.  And hefty doses of optimism, along with quiet pep talks:  I can pull this off.  I will pull this off.  I’m right now pulling this off . . . 

It’s also being willing to struggle, and to fail, and to have the patience to start over, and go back, or rethink the plot/characters/theme/motivation.  

Truly, the only way to produce a book is to start a one.  And the only way to get a polished, successful novel is to begin with that first draft, with that first burst of energy, with that first hopeful idea. 

Onward and upward, soldiers.  It’s a new year, and time to kick start that new book.  Anyone care to join me?

Jane Porter’s July 2006 release, Flirting With Forty (5 Spot), was picked by Redbook Magazine as its Red Hot Summer Read before being optioned as a Lifetime Christmas 2008 TV movie. Jane's newest novel, Mrs. Perfect, (May 2008, 5 Spot) has also received tremendous acclaim from her readers.

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