Guest post by #buqosteamyreads author Kate Sebastian: Sex is easy, love is hard
Taking over the blog today is author Kate Sebastian!
My #buqosteamyreads experience can be summed up in two words: “frustration” and “procrastination.”
I’m a pretty notorious crammer—indeed, it seems like my best work is written at the 11th hour. I wrote and discarded two and a half fully formed plots (half because I had the description but hadn’t even bothered to do a full outline) before settling on the barebones of the one I eventually chose the day before the first draft was due. And even though I had weeks to do my revisions after that, I started them the day they were actually due and ended up just about doubling the length of my story so it became a short novella.
It’s a problem that has plagued me my entire writing career—if I don’t have a deadline, most things just don’t get written. If you could see my notebooks and the writing folders on my computer, you’d find about six or seven novels started and never finished (that includes around three or four that passed the 50,000-word mark and one that passed the 100,000-word mark) and perhaps a dozen fully outlined plots. None of them finished.
Having joined and failed Mina’s first #romanceclass session, I jumped at the chance to join #buqosteamyreads because of its required output (5,000 words in a day didn’t sound too hard [Mina’s comment: In five weeks! 5,000 words in 5 weeks!]) and its reportedly strict deadlines (not militant, but there was a launch date to follow, after all!). Most of the stories I write aren’t romantic, and if they are, they aren’t in the contemporary romance genre (what can I say? I like my paranormals), but I was at the point where I didn’t care what I wrote as long as I wrote it. And, I reasoned to myself, I’d written steamy scenes before and had even been paid for them. At worst, I could come up with a 5,000-word story with a 2,500-word sex scene and a rudimentary plot. That’s what I told myself.
And for my first draft, I may have done a little better than that, but honestly, it wasn’t by much. In fact, elements of three other stories or novels I had recently read had somehow stained my plot. I recruited four beta readers to help me out, three of whom said I needed to develop my plot and characters better. The fourth hit the nail on the head. She looked me in the eye and said, “You just hate Christy (the main character), don’t you?”
And while hate might have been a strong word, I had to admit that I didn’t like her very much. She nodded sagely and waited for the light bulb to go off in my head (or I imagine that’s what she was doing when she stared at me). It did, eventually. And I realized that for my character to be believable as the star of her own romantic story, she had to be someone I—not to mention my readers—could imagine men (and one man in particular) falling for.
Which brings me to my other word. Frustration. And by that I mean romantic frustration, not the sexual kind. I had no idea how to bring my story (and characters) to life. I do read romance, but, with a few exceptions, I categorically hate rom-coms, which so many people told me would be a great source for inspiration. My husband is the great romantic in our marriage. Failed attempts at coming up with a battle plan for my final drafts almost invariably involved substituting plot and characterization with mindless sex scenes.
Because let’s face it. In writing, as in life, sex is easy—love is hard.
I whined about it. A lot. I took a break from my whining to watch the Oscars, and that’s where I found some inspiration, my key to Kyle, my main character’s love interest (I wonder if anyone will make the connection. I’ll just plant an easter egg and say it has to do with the movie Frozen). Christy was a lot tougher. So I procrastinated. But with the deadline drawing closer, I grew increasingly desperate. I took a piece of myself that I liked, a piece of this friend, a piece of this cousin, and so on, and I added it to the character I (slightly) detested. And the mosaic turned out to be something I could work with.
The night before the draft was due (or maybe it was the morning), I had a plan. But I also had tons of work. Fortunately, it was a Friday. So I begged for and was granted an extension. I ended up almost completely rewriting my novel (I kept a few paragraphs unchanged here and there, but all that you’d see in my novel, were you to compare it to my first draft, would be a total of perhaps three or four pages worth of writing). That entire weekend was a blur of sleeplessness, keyboard pounding, caffeine, and desperate Tweeting (and by the way, I want to thank my classmates and other writer friends for their encouragements). Very early on Monday morning, I submitted my draft. I’d finished it—it was the first longish work of fiction I’d ever completed.
And, for the most part, that was that for this story. But more importantly, I had proved to myself that I could actually finish something. And the fact that it’s since been released on Buqo and even topped a list or two? That’s a very sweet bit of icing on the cake.
Meet Christy and Kyle (and search for that Oscars connection if you can!) in Old Enemies Make the Best Lovers from Buqo.ph. I’d love to learn if you think I was successful in making Christy less detestable!
Kate Sebastian has been a writer most of her life. She’s enjoying being blissfully attached by way of marriage to a guy who likes love stories even more than she does. Follow her on Twitter @ImKateSebastian (http://www.twitter.com/ImKateSebastian) and like her page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/katesebastianauthor) for updates on her story and on new projects. Feel free to drop her a note at katesebastianauthor[at]gmail.com.