Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Life in general

So this isn't my first blog this week, but you probably didn't realize that. I'm a charter member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and after getting the June issue, I wrote a very different blog. Posted it and left it up for 24 hours and then deleted it, mostly because I'm trying to find ways to deal with frustration and not simply stroke out. I won't bore you with the details of my first post—I was simply upset because I may have trouble maintaining my published author status with RWA even though I actually have published, have an agent, and am working on publishing more titles.

However, the last few weeks have just been increasingly stressful and it makes me wonder why so many people are so determined to make life difficult. It's like they go out of their way to complicate simple issues instead of just doing the easy, straight-forward solution. It's wearing me down.

Like at my day job. I'm an enterprise admin in Information Technology (IT) for a very large organization—we have over 250,000 users and computers, if that gives you any idea. And a very small part of what I do is help roll out national projects. This is a very small part, mind you. Most of what I do is very unglamorous work with domain controllers, directory services, DNS, WINS, and other techno-geek, backroom stuff that no one has ever heard of and doesn't want to know about. In fact, I'm probably one of a handful of experts on a little know mechanism that exhibits itself via an attribute called the admincount on objects in Active Directory (AD) and prevents a Blackberry from working for users affected by this, as well as preventing them from publishing certificates to AD and so on. Like I said, no one wants to hear this stuff, least of all you. (However, I am actually going to publish two blogs tonight and the second one is going to be on the admincount attribute so if you're a techno-geek who is really into this stuff, you can look at that, later.)

But I am telling you this as a way of segueing into this topic of how humans seem to love making it difficult. So, I have this little side effort going on to do a simple deployment of a simple project. And I get it done all across the country until I get to the west coast of the U.S. These guys, in their brilliant arrogance had decided that the rest of us ignorant savages don't know what we're doing and so they can't possibly implement this the way the rest of the country has implemented it already. They have to reverse engineer it because they are convinced they know better. I mean, if they can't be involved in the development of every single project in our organization, then it's just up to these guys to break it apart and change it to suit their whims. It doesn't matter if changing the project may impact the security and expose information that should not be exposed or that another system was tested and granted FDA-approval as medical equipment and therefore should not be changed without changes being properly documented and tested since it might affect patient care and safety. Oh, no. These guys know better.

And so instead of a simple deployment, they refuse to do things the right way. The easy way. And even they have a change management system they insist everyone in their area follow, they are perfectly content to refuse to allow us to use our change management system and not change things without testing in the middle of a deployment. People might say, well, that's just your opinion. No. This is not my project. I had nothing to do with it. I was handed a finished project and told to deploy it and I'm following the directions. I would never assume that I knew better than the developer and that I could change the system mid-stream, particularly since I know that changing any medical system that is FDA-approved is at a minimum just bad judgment.

So that's my example of how people take a simple thing and make it difficult and stressful and why I'm probably going to stroke out.

Because not being content with a stressful day job in IT, I just had to start a writing career, too. And did I pick the easy road to publication? Did I write nice romances for a great company like Harlequin or write really hot romances that could be best sellers for a company like Avon? Heck no. I had to choose the hard road. I had to start out with writing a romantic comedy for the Harlequin Duets line which folded right after I submitted my manuscript (which they actually held for two years because they liked it—but not after Duets folded).

Then, did I learn my lesson? Heck no, again. I then wrote a traditional Regency. Got an agent. Kensington and Signet stopped publishing traditional Regencies. All right—two for two! And did I learn my lesson, yet? Heck no. What did I write next? I wrote a Regency-set mystery which pretty much no one publishes. Well, there are a few, but they are already pretty well stocked with all the Regency-set mysteries they want from their stable of writers and sort of don't need any more. Particularly not stories that are really kind of romantic mysteries set in the Regency period.

Did that stop me? No, of course not. I wrote four of them. But I also wrote a vampire story that has a romance in it, but it's not really hot, sensuality-wise, because I was actually interested in other issues in the story. So I sort of took a well-selling genre and wrote the story least likely to sell. I can hear my agent sighing…heavily and mournfully in the background.

Am I developing a trend here? Am I just making it difficult for myself? Yes, I guess so. I'd like to think I'm not being as arrogant as the guys from the west coast in my day job, but on the other hand, maybe all the other writers are looking at me and pointing their fingers, saying: if she just wasn't so arrogant and would just write commercial fiction in a well-selling genre, she might not have so many difficulties. She just won't follow the rules. Why is she trying to write Regency-set romantic mysteries, especially ones without long, explicit sex scenes and hot, lingering glances?

Except, I thought writers were supposed to write things they might actually enjoy reading. And I'm taking all kinds of writing classes and listening to all the experts like Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (who are fabulous writers and very generous with their time and advice) and my goal is to be the best writer there is. Of Regency-set romantic mysteries. Which may simply be mutually exclusive, especially if I continue to write what the characters and story demand instead of shoving in a lot of long, explicit sex scenes and things like "he stroked the pearl at the very core of her being as she moaned with ecstasy".

(At this point, I'm sure Crusie and Mayer are thinking: hmmm, if she's really listening to us, she wouldn't be writing this junk and she'd maybe be a best selling author by now. Why is she making this so hard? Write a freaking sex scene, for heaven's sake, and get over it. Grow up if you want to be a successful author.)

Okay, I might even write a few contemporary, romantic mysteries which I will consider romantic even without explicit scenes and pearls of anyone's essences. Darn, I guess that's not really listening, is it?

Okay, I guess I am arrogant and making it hard on myself. I really don't know, but I do know if I don't learn to take a deep breath and put it all behind me, I probably will stroke out. Soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Amy :-) Just wanted to say I read your "other" post and I agree that PAN membership should not be about earnings. I can't believe they're thinking of this, and I want to know what's going to happen to the (seems to me) quite numerous authors who have not published in the past 5 years--are they forced to resign from PAN?

As a PRO member, I can tell you that yes, they *do* kick people out once their PAN approval comes through. I know there are a lot of people who'd like to stay but quite frankly, I'd rather move up to PAN ;-)

Re: advice-don't stop giving it. People will take whatever they think is good from any source. FWIW, I'm with you on the sigh and hiss--maybe not so much the laugh ;-)