What a moment--that first time you dare catch the ideas and words that have chased each other, perhaps for years, through your mind. Even if you're not a romance writer, a love story commences between you and your stunning characters. Each day whispers sweet literary phrases in your ears and brings bouquets of new plot ideas. Nothing, nobody is as fascinating as your story. You announce its inception on Facebook, Twitter, the evening news. You amaze your family with your writing savvy. Your mother calls to say you're brilliant. Even your plants bloom when you enter the room.
Stage Two - Yes, your first page and a half is dazzling. Only 298.5 to go. Ecstatic, you register for the ACFW conference and make appointments with an agent and an editor. One little joyous complication--or several, actually: your children all announce they are expecting in August. Plus, your spouse, inspired by your creativity, ceases his twenty-year opposition to remodeling the kitchen--"if we do all the work ourselves." Your mother calls to demand, "What were you thinking, signing up for all this?" You and your plants wilt. And your formerly compliant protagonist starts telling you, the author, how it's gonna be. Still, you make the Genesis contest deadline by thirty seconds.
Stage Three - You are 39,000 words over your word limit--and you're only on Chapter Four. Or your rough draft is 39,000 words short. Your cat, dog and goldfish are now pregnant. Your mother calls daily to report Debbie Macomber's latest sales figures. Your spouse wonders why your characters enjoy far more romance than he does. Your answer: maybe because they aren't washing dishes in a saucepan. Or writing a novel.
Your story's middle isn't just sagging. It collapsed because your heroine likes the villain better than the hero. Sadly, you agree. So do your critique partners. The hero, left in the lurch, threatens to sue. So do your neglected plants.
Stage Four - You do without food, water and double lattes until this story is fixed and finished. You inform your mother that as of now, you talk only to God. You send your spouse and plants to a monastery. You threaten to send your characters there, too, until they cooperate. But with the aid of God, critique buddies, ACFW archives and a Middle East treaty negotiator, you finish the book--on time, though your kids, dog, cat and goldfish all deliver (appropriately) around Labor Day. You and your spouse, who decided to return home after all, celebrate the joyous insanity of new birth (book and babies) by eating a dinner not cooked with a hair dryer.
Even before you can talk your peeved parent and plants into listening to your pitch for the ACFW conference, you get these incredible ideas for ten new novels. . . .