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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why Do I Write Medical Romance?

My w-i-p has been driving me nuts! I LOVE Kate and Matt, and it's not their fault that my writing hasn't been happening, it's all mine. You know those doubts and insecurities that we writers get from time to time? I've been engulfed by them and I've been letting them win.

It all started when I stopped writing again to research. Suddenly, I wonder who I'm trying to kid! How on earth am I ever going to know for sure that I've got my facts right? What if I'm not being believable? Question after question of doubt rained down on me.

Then I started wondering whether I was perhaps writing for the wrong line. Perhaps that's why I'm struggling? Maybe I shouldn't be writing medical? My first two attempts back in the '90s were for the Modern/Harlequin Presents line, so why wasn't I targeting them this time?

Write what you enjoy to read is what we're advised. But therein lies the problem - I love all the HMB lines! Modern, Romance, Medical, Intrigue... Then I read the extended guidelines from HMB that I'd requested and suddenly all made sense and I was confident again.

The reason I've chosen to write Medicals is because this line can pretty much incorporate all of the above. I want to write from the heart; I want to let my characters decide how sensual they are; I want to choose any setting... I also want to use my own experiences to a certain degree. I've personal experiences to draw from. I know about women's problems, miscarriages, having babies, post-natal difficulties, depression and lots more besides. I know how it feels to be a patient. I know what patients want from their doctors. I know bad doctors, and I know good ones.

For a while though none of these reasons felt enough. I froze. What if I wasn't getting the medical details right? After all I hadn't worked in the health profession.

Then I received a few emails:

One was from my CP (critique partner) yet again telling me how much she believed in my writing...

Another was from a writer who's become a good friend, with a timely reminder to get it written and stop worrying about getting it right. She assures me that these feelings and doubts are the norm - she gets them often as well. I need to plod on and finish the first draft because only then will I know what needs tweaking and be able to add more layers.

Finally, in a reply to an email I'd written to one of my favourite authors following another fantastic read, was another reminder - no matter what line I'm writing for always focus on the romance. This person has no idea how much I've been struggling or how down I've been feeling about my writing.

Combine all these emails
+ all the words of encouragement I've received from other writers at different times these past months,
+ my (ever patient) hubby's insistence not to dare even think about giving up
= something finally filtering through to this numb brain of mine.

So a note to myself (and every other aspiring writer engulfed with doubt):

It's all about the romance.

Until the first draft is written there's nothing to work on.


So there it is, my rollercoaster ride of the past week or so. Before I go, look what happens when I allow myself to believe all this advice:

Yesterday (still feeling yucky) I sat myself down in my cave and did some writing. I managed over 1,000 words before lunch!

And speaking of never giving up:

Next week (whether I'm feeling yucky or not) I'm away to have another try at seeing Patrick Swayze !


India said...


Sometimes I think you get to the stage where you need some time away from a ms, and sometimes you need to be really strict with yourself and fix a firm deadline for finishing. I reckon you should put the research on the backburner and just get carried away with the story. Write fast-- edit and put in details later!

And a HUGE well-done on yesterday's output!

Margaret McDonagh said...

Good on you! You CAN do it. Use what works for you. You and I know about the health problems, so don't over-pressure yourself. You'll get there.


Melissa Marsh said...

What a wonderful, encouraging post. So glad that you received that inspiration exactly at the right time - and I don't think it was a coincidence at all! :-)

Karen Erickson said...

Yes very inspiring Sue. And go back and read this post whenever you're feeling down - never give up!!!


Sharon J said...

I totally agree with India. This first draft doesn't need to be spot-on re the research. What's important is to get the story down then work on the rest later.

If you want it enough then you'll do it. That's what I truly believe.

April said...

You can learn about medical stuff... If it's what you want to write, write it! And I think everyone suffers from similar thoughts... I do at least :-)

Good luck with Partick Swayze!!

Annie said...

Well done on the word count, Sue. I totally agree that getting something written down is the important bit; anything else can wait. Also, with research, you don't always know what it is you need to know until after you've written it - if you know what I mean?!

Anonymous said...

It totally sounds like you are writing for the right line, Sue (and Medicals have always been my favourite m&b read, despite the fact that I faint at the sight of blood).

So, as they say on Galaxy Quest, 'Never give up. Never surrender'!!

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Thanks for all your comments and encouragement.

India, I wouldn't dare give up now - you're scary when you shout ;-)

Mags, thanks so much for your belief in me, and for your empathy on the health issues etc.

Melissa and Karen, thanks for your kind words - I agree Melissa, some 'coincidences' aren't coincidence at all.

Sharon, I agree, it's all about wanting it enough - and I do, so I'll keep plodding...

April, you're so right, I think all writers suffer with doubts at some stage. I've finally realised that all the luck in the world won't make a difference to Patrick Swayze!!

Thanks Annie - yes, I do know what you mean so I'd better stop pondering and get on with the writing.

Amanda, thank you for your vote of confidence, and it's great that Medicals are your favourite m&b read. I promise I'll go easy on the blood...

Sue :-)

Sharon J said...

That's a good girl :-)

India is scary when she gets stroppy! She's had me shaking in my flip-flops more than once!