Why write?

I suppose I’m surprised myself at this question.  Why am I writing a romance novel after years of only being a reader?

I suppose the inspiration came to me recently, during Lent.  I started Lent determined to be very high-minded.  I was going to read only books on theology.  But what I found fascinating were the theological musings of clergywomen, namely the essays in a collection “There is a Woman in the Pulpit.”

Reading an essay by Amber Belldene, an Episcopal clergywoman, I was enthralled.  She has a series of romances in which the heroines are clergywomen in our faith tradition who deal with the types of questions that many grapple with:  how to negotiate dating relationships at the same time they follow their call to ordained ministry?

So my high mindedness didn’t get too far, as a result.  Or maybe it did?   I found myself writing a romance novel.  I remember drafting an outline on my computer and then going to the library where I’m a volunteer.  No one had any questions, so I just sat with paper, and the words just came.

It is as though this story has been in the back of my mind waiting to come out.  Suddenly, it seemed as though I was writing to keep up with the lives of my characters, and they were having all kinds of adventures.  Inspiration came from all over, something I remembered hearing, seeing, or reading.  It could have been something I saw recently on television, something I overheard, or a blog essay I remember reading or writing sometime ago.

This is a story about a former active duty serviceman who has gone back to college as a member of the Reserves.  This is a major life transition, being older and in a different place, being married minded, when the young adults around him are not of the same mindset.  Enter the heroine.  She is young but quite mature.  A conservative-leaning Episcopalian with a mother who is in the ordination process, she is different from her peers, in that she is actually in college for her Mrs. Degree.  I have enjoyed learning about them, their lives, and their friends.

I suppose it isn’t surprising, in that I am a writer, but I just never saw myself as a writer of fiction.  I was an academic author for a good many years, and I have done freelance writing within my field.  In addition, I used to write essays for my blog.

But I did have an interesting mishap in the midst.  During Holy Week, I finished one of my chapters, it might have been Thursday, then I was getting fancy at trying to save it.  I made some type of mistake and I wound up losing 2 or 3 chapters and part of another one, a week’s worth of work.  My face fell.  I had to start anew. But I was determined not to see it as a tragedy, but as a learning experience.  I was done in about 3 days, writing the old chapters and including some new ones.  It felt like my own death and resurrection experience, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Funny enough, I think the new chapters actually came out better.  I then printed up my first draft around Easter Monday and then began proofreading and editing.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.