How I became a romance writer.

by Lynn on September 23, 2010

My first love was the Six Million Dollar Man. Unfortunately, the demands of fifth grade prevented me from moving closer to his secret government hideout, but my imagination overcame our geographical separation. I recorded our romance in my trusty yellow spiral notebook. Not only did Steve Austin and I solve many mysteries, but we fell madly in love, got married, and had five bionic children.

Happily, I discovered that my friend would read my short stories as long as she had a steady supply of  peanut butter cups and grape soda. There’s nothing like a loyal reader and sugar to spur a youngster to greater achievements, and I decided that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

I immediately began to research my favorite subject matter: “boys.” Luckily, I lived in a neighborhood full of them. Thanks to their need for teammates and my love of sports, I assimilated into their secret society and spent my youth playing football, basketball and baseball. During that time, I peered into the male psyche, I learned the language of men, and I mastered various ways to replicate the sound of a fart. My education was complete.

I didn’t hit a bump in the road until I started college. I planned to major in English Literature because I liked to read English Literature. However, I was surrounded by engineers and pre-meds and biology majors who said, “Nobody hires English majors!” Frightened by the prospect of unemployment, I opted to study Business. During that bleak era stained by the drudgery of Statistics, Economics, and Business Law, I discovered romance novels.  The plots, the dialogue, and the promise of a happy ending got me through college.  I went through romance novels like my classmates went through beer.

I wrote my first  romance novel when I was in graduate school. Why write your Masters thesis when your shiny new typewriter can be put to better use? Not only that, I had to write. The creative release of putting word to paper was something I craved.  The spoken word was too difficult for me. I wasn’t fast on my feet. My thoughts got lost in the process of trying to get them out of my mouth, but a keyboard made the words fly out of me. Better yet, writing gave me the chance to invent a reality that made sense to me.

After I got married, I set up an office in the closet of our guest bedroom and wrote romance when my children napped. Occasionally, I’d submit a manuscript. I got gobs of rejection letters. Every rebuff was disappointing, but I kept writing because it was too fun to quit. To learn more about my favorite hobby, I joined the Romance Writers of America. I started going to conferences. I opened myself up to criticism, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. Writing is an intensely personal thing, and any negative critique can cut like a knife. It was terrifying, exhilarating, and befuddling, but I loved learning about the craft I so enjoyed.

A few months ago, I asked a literary agent if she was taking new clients. She invited me to send the first 50 pages of my current manuscript. She didn’t like how it began. She asked me to change it, and I sent a revision. She asked to see the rest of my manuscript. To my horror, she found a punctuation error that appeared throughout my entire story.  I was convinced that I ruined my chance to impress her, but I corrected my mistakes and resubmitted the manuscript. After all my false starts and stupid errors, I feared that there was no chance that she’d like my novel. I prepared myself for yet another rejection letter.

To the contrary, she offered to become my literary agent.

I am over the moon with excitement. Writing romance is so darn fun, and I’m delighted at the prospect of finding more readers. Which reminds me, I need to buy more peanut butter cups and grape soda. In any event, I can credit my good fortune to one thing: failure. Every rejection letter, negative critique, and roadblock I encountered made me a better writer.

So, for any of you dreamers who have a file cabinet full of rejection letters, take heart.  I can’t guarantee that your dreams will come true, but I know for certain that failure will help you if you only let it.

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{ 13 comments }

Sara September 23, 2010 at 6:43 am

Congratulations! This was a very inspiring read!

vodka logic September 23, 2010 at 6:54 am

Congratulations for sticking it out and getting what you wanted. Let us know when it is published so we can read it.

I’ll take the peanut butter cups, but with grape soda…yuck. :)
vodka logic´s last blog post ..Why is it that Part 8

cheri September 23, 2010 at 9:10 am

That is exciting! I am an avid reader and enjoy reading your blog posts each day so I can’t wait to read your book. Keep us bloggers up to date so we can buy a copy.

Amber September 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

How exciting!
Amber´s last blog post ..Ding-dong the mouse is dead!

Elizabeth September 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Congratulations! I enjoy reading your posts so I’m pretty sure I’d love reading your romance novel. And peanut butter cups – yummmmm! Switch to a Diet Dr. Pepper and I’m yours.

Writing is like all other endeavors. It takes lots of work, practise, and rejection but the end result is so worth it.
Elizabeth´s last blog post ..Etsy Treasury featuring 2 items from Topsy Turvy Tots

Susan September 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Congrats! I can’t wait to read what you produce. So, were you like me and really disliked Lindsay Wagner because she obviously had the edge on us non-bionic females?? I definately think Steve would have appreciated a good writer over someone that could hear a pin drop in Atlanta or crush his ego in an arm wrestling contest.

Nike September 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Thank you for helping me figure out what I’ve been doing wrong all these years: no bribes. I feel empowered now–confident and self-assured–because I happen to know that grape soda and Halloween-themed peanut butter cups are sale this week at our local grocery store. I figure I can stock up on enough supplies to keep readers plodding through my revisions for the next several weeks. So thanks!

(And serious props and congratulations!)

Kimberly September 23, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Hooray! What fun!

Judy September 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Wow, Lynn, HUGE congrats! I really admire your perserverance & of course your talent! Can’t wait to read your first romance novel. Me——I’m still trying to learn this new DSLR! ha!

Kelley September 24, 2010 at 1:17 am

That is so awesome!! How exciting is that??? I know you probably cannot even believe it. Congratulations! I look forward to hearing/reading more about it, Lynn Steele!
Kelley´s last blog post ..Real Women of Genius 2- Ms Wal-Mart Greeter &amp Receipt Highlighter

Maureen September 24, 2010 at 10:59 am

Congratulations! How exciting! Keep us posted on your progress and kudos to you for having stick-to-it-iveness (sp??!!!)

Valerene Matthews, Malaysia September 26, 2010 at 11:34 am

Yay! Happy for you! Does it mean you’re gonna be rich and famous and not have to cook another meal for the rest of your life? (just wishful thinking….)
(I just changed all the letters to capitals where I should, just in case someone’s lookin’ at my punctuation marks. So there.)
Valerene Matthews, Malaysia´s last blog post ..Allisons French Onion Dip It Wasnt

CK October 2, 2010 at 6:10 am

OK. So, here is my question. How in the world do you get warmed up and get anything efficient down on paper by the time your kids wake up from their naps? I like to write… no… I LOVE to write (because if I don’t those characters chase me around in my head and scream to get put down on paper) but it seems like it takes me a whole hour to get into the story every time I sit down at the computer. And then after just another half hour of writing, my kids wake up from their naps. Uf. Its hard to write as a mother. I guess your kids are school age, now, so maybe you have a little more time to write while they are at school.
Anyway… I am SO impressed you kept writing after so many rejections. I don’t know how you got anything written before you took it to a publisher. I think it will take me years and years to actually finish my novel.
So, kudos. And I am SURE what you write is wonderful. As I perused through this blog, I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I’m so glad I came upon you and your clever thoughts/posts!
Thanks for the story and encouragement in writing. I’d love to read a chapter or two some time.
-Sitstah, CK

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