Mandy's Musings

Ramblings of romance author Madeline Baker/Amanda Ashley

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why I Write......

I’m a writer. I write because I love it, because I can’t NOT write.

I love being a writer because:

a) you can work in your nightgown and
b) because no one watches you while you’re doing it.

I never speak in public because

a) you can’t do it in your nightgown and
b) people watch you.

As many of you know, I never intended to be a published author. I don’t even remember now why I started writing other than I was bored one night when there was nothing on tv.
Once I started writing that book, I couldn’t stop. I thought about it constantly and wrote scenes in my head while driving my kids to school. I lived and breathed that book until I finished it and, like Joan Wilder in “Romancing the Stone”, when I finished it, I said, “Damn, that’s good”. I put it under the bed and started another story.

I guess I was a closet writer. I never told a soul what I was doing. I think I’d stashed three manuscripts under the bed when I finally admitted to a friend that I had written a book. I was horrified when she wanted to read it. Just because I thought it was good didn’t mean it was!

Finally, after a lot of hemming and hawing, I agreed to let her read it. What a horrible time that was. I was ecstatic when she said she loved it, that it was very visual, that – gasp! – I should try and get it published. I had no idea how to go about it, but she gave me a copy of Writer’s Market and my quest for a publisher began.

I made a list of all the publishers who published romances and began sending my baby out into the world. I never really expected to sell the book. It was like a game. I sent out whatever the publisher required – synopsis and 3 chapters, whatever – and then waited. When I got a rejection letter, I typed up a new query letter and sent it out again. In the six years it took me to sell the book, I think I went through my list at least three times. Finally, after 31 rejections, Leisure bought the book.


I told the editor I also had a second book, but she wasn’t interested and I thought, oh, well, at least I sold one.

Then, a short time later, I got a letter or a phone call, I can’t remember which, from that same editor telling me that they had done some sort of market survey and discovered that Indian romances were very popular and asking if the book I had mentioned earlier was completed. I said yes, and I’ve been writing ever since.

I’ve often been asked about my writing schedule. It is, to say the least, erratic. I don’t write at a set time every time. I don’t force myself to write a certain number of words or pages. I write when I’m in the mood and when my Muse starts to wander, I quit and go do something else. Sometimes I just lose steam on a particular book, and when that happens, I work on something else. I usually have 3 or 4 books in various stages of completion so I always have something to work on.

I know all the big name authors say you should sit in front of your computer and write whether you’re in the mood or not. I think it’s Nora who says you can fix bad writing but you can’t fix a blank page, or something to that effect. And that’s true. But when I’m not in the mood, when the words won’t come, I don’t see any point in writing something that stinks in hopes that I can fix it later. Of course, look where she is, and look where I am. Obviously, she’s right, which is why she’s written so many more books than I have, but I still can’t force myself to write when I’m not in the mood. Which is part of my problem – no discipline!

Dakota Dreams
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