Sometimes it takes 12 years
I rarely write a post about a book while I’m still writing it, but I’d like to get this out of the way about my upcoming release before I fully commit to the story and the choices I have to make there.
From a pep talk I wrote for the Filipino Nanowrimo group in 2010:
The first adult romance manuscript I ever tried writing featured a twenty-something main character whose family had recently immigrated to the United States, but without her, because she had “aged out” of the family petition. That is not at all familiar if you’ve read my first published book My Imaginary Ex, because that manuscript was never actually published. It was kind of there, but not there, and then too much—the last email thread on the matter in 2008 with my editor Ines was that it was 15,000 words over and we would need to cut it down. At that point I quit haha. I told Ines I was withdrawing the manuscript and will instead work on another one. (That was eventually the one that got published.)
This is from the book no one else saw:
Did I really quit this though? Did I? (I guess not lol.) I didn’t know this then, but in the next ten years I would keep writing, and find much fun and joy and purpose writing the small and specific story. This, to me, had always been a fascinating, specific story, that seemed small but was connected to big things. I don’t want to look at the shelved manuscript again, but what I wanted to say lingered. Gnawed at me for, apparently, 12 years.
In 2020, I started writing it again.
The problem with going back to the original manuscript and just publishing it as is, is that they can’t be twenty-somethings anymore. The law has since been changed so “aging out” the way my main character did now rarely happens, or happens differently. The people who’ve gone through this very specific thing are a certain age. So in this renewed attempt to write it, I made the main character 41 years old.
Picking up a shelved project twelve years later—when you’ve spent the years in between still writing romance—can be a cool thing. By now, I’ve written a lot of twenty-somethings and have happily moved on to older characters. I’ve done my time experimenting with what’s popular vs what needs to be written and have figured out what one book can and can’t be. I also confirmed that yeah I still like this trope a lot, there’s something to it!
These two manuscripts are different but ultimately say the same thing. Twelve years later I’ve collected more words and ways to articulate the feeling.
I’ve put a pre-publication preview of my next book TOTALLY ENGAGED, on Wattpad. Here’s what it’s about (if I don’t change it in revisions haha):
Rose (41) has been happily living alone in Manila. When her family surprises her with a visit, she knows they’ll finally stop plotting to get her a green card if they see her settled down—so of course she asks the hot prof (Pascal, 39) next door to pretend to be her fiancé.