Thursday, June 18, 2015

The "Guilty Pleasure," Marlow-Style

This story began when I needed to do a quick consistency check for a couple of characters who are the major players in my third novel. Both characters are introduced in my first novel, His Promise True, so my intention was to simply read the sections which feature those two characters, just to make sure I wasn't giving them personality transplants or anything like that.

At some point, "I'll just read those paragraphs with these characters" became "I'm reading this entire book." It's actually the first time I've read the book as a book, meaning I'm not doing any editing, which is a completely different type of reading. I also hadn't looked at the book at all since it was published in 2013, because I've been putting my scarce time for writing/reading into finishing the second novel and starting the third. So it feels like it was time to visit Maggie and John David again.

I'm pleased to report I haven't been cringing every few pages, wondering why I made the choices I did in the final edit that was published. However, it also hasn't been a completely positive experience, and that's mainly because of the guilt I feel about reading my own book (again) when there are so many good books waiting in the to-be-read list (42 on my Goodreads list alone). It's taken me more than a month to read the book, which is less than 300 pages, and that bothers me too. My only excuse on that front is the past month included finals week and the beginning of blueberry season on the farm, so I'm too tired at night to read more than a couple of pages. Every time I log in to Goodreads, I'm taunted by the fact that my "currently reading" status is blank (because it would just be too weird to publicly announce on a site like Goodreads that I'm reading my own book).

Really, though, I don't know that I should feel so guilty. One of the adages one hears over and over about writing is, "Write what you like to read." That's exactly what I did. What I like are historical books, especially books about pioneers, with a strong, interesting female character whose skin I can slip into for a while and a male love interest who is human, meaning his flaws are real-to-life and not some kind of plot device. I like for these characters to struggle and face obstacles, but to ultimately have a happy ending.

I developed this literary taste as a teen reading Janice Holt Giles, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Loula Grace Erdman, Margaret Leighton, and Elizabeth George Speare, among others. It's stayed pretty constant as I've grown to be a middle-ager. The problem is, I'm having trouble finding those kinds of books now. Historical fiction, especially pioneer stories, is just not what agents and publishers are looking for. I guess if I want to read that kind of story, I have to write it myself, ha ha.

I'm going to give myself a little bit of a break this time, and say that His Promise True counts as the "guilty pleasure" book on my book challenge for this year. The problem is....His Promise True leads right in to A Permanent Home...am I allowed TWO guilty pleasures???

(I'm being serious right now - if anyone has suggestions for historical novels that fit the description above, I'd love to check them out. It doesn't even have to be a pioneer story...but I do really want historical more than contemporary.)