How do you get back into the habit of writing after being away? Amelia Autin wrote two very well-received books (RT nominated for best IMs each year!) in 1996 and 1997. GIDEON’S BRIDE and REILLY’S RETURN were emotional, dramatic and very compelling tales. But then she just stopped writing until this spring. Here’s her story….
It was as easy as turning on a faucet that had been turned off for sixteen years.
It sounds crazy, but that’s what it seemed like when I sat myself down at the computer in February 2013 and started writing romances again. After sixteen years away from writing fiction I thought it would be harder creating plot lines and crafting believable characters, but somehow it all came back to me when I began writing a new romance. Then another. And another. Six in eight months. All publishable quality? Maybe not, but still…six complete manuscripts in eight months. All while holding down a demanding full time job.
It helped that for the past six years I’ve done a lot of technical writing in my job with a major defense contractor, so it wasn’t as if I hadn’t written a word in sixteen years. And it also helped that I created a class on technical writing a few years ago, a class I’ve taught to engineers and others who had a burning need to write technical documents but didn’t have a clue where or how to start (writing is not a mandatory class in the math and sciences curriculums, although it should be).
In my technical writing class I stressed there really is no difference between non-fiction and fiction in one elemental way – they both tell a story. My non-fiction writing rule of thumb: not one word more nor one word less than is absolutely necessary to tell the story clearly and concisely. In other words, if it’s necessary to the story, leave it in. If not, delete it, no matter how beautifully written. And that’s exactly what I brought to my fiction writing when I started up again.
People have asked me why I stopped writing romantic fiction sixteen years ago. The answer is simple – fear. Fear of failure.
My first romance was a labor of love, and when I got “the call” that I had sold that manuscript I cried from sheer joy. I believe my second romance was substantially better than the first (I was starting to understand the craft of romantic fiction writing), but it was a product of fear. Fear of being a “one book wonder.” My pride was at stake – I had to sell a second romance, I just had to, or I’d never be able to hold my head up again with my writer friends. When I got “the call” from my editor that I had sold the second manuscript all I felt was an overwhelming sense of relief that I wasn’t a failure. No joy.
Fear is not a good incentive to write, especially not something as creative and personal as romantic fiction. Fear kept me from writing romance for sixteen years, until the faucet was turned on again when I realized I still had stories to tell, and the stories just gushed out. Stories that had been floating around in my brain all those years away from writing fiction. Stories I just had to get down on paper…for me. Even if I never sold another manuscript, those stories needed to be written. And that’s why I started writing romantic fiction again.
Yes, it’s great I’ve finally sold another manuscript to Harlequin after all these years, a “sequel” to my second book. I expect to continue selling manuscripts to them in the future because I want to share what I’ve written with the world, just as when I first started writing. More importantly, though, I discovered the joy of writing again…for me. Just for me. And joy is the greatest feeling in the world.
Thank you, Amelia for sitting down and writing again! We’re delighted you’ve returned to Harlequin and are going to continue to share your joy in storytelling with some really emotional, dramatic and tender stories.
Readers–look out for CODY WALKER’S WOMAN (the sequel to REILLY’S RETURN) some time next year! And don’t forget to check out her first books in the meantime…