Deb Erika Thinks All’s Fair in Love and WIPs

Ah, love.

I’ve always said I think there are a frightening number of similarities between the road to true love and the road to publication. So since this week is all about keeping the flame lit for a WIP, I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at a few of the adages we’ve all heard about how to keep romance alive and well. But are they fact or fiction?

This girl thinks fiction. So with an eye toward WIPs, here’s my take on a few favorites:

Love maintenance rule #1: Lose the mystery and you lose the passion. Huh? I don’t even know that means. First of all, secrets scare me. I’m not one of those Oh-I-don’t-get-jealous types when it comes to my husband. I get jealous. And while I’m no Alex Forrest, I will admit to several fits of 10th grade girlfriend hysterics and drama. Trust me, I don’t need to think my husband has secrets. Likewise, I don’t want secrets in my manuscript. Call me nuts, but I like flaws. Flaws don’t scare me. Perfection scares me. Or worse, the belief that something is perfect. When it comes time to get down to the business of revisions, I want to be prepared for all the belly-button lint hiding in my paragraphs. Seeing my WIP as something as easily cracked as the spun sugar on a croquembouche doesn’t give me comfort. It gives me hives.

Love maintenance rule #2: Don’t give everything to your love; keep a piece for yourself. This piece you’re saving…are you saving it for your next WIP? Then why not give all of yourself to this WIP? Treat this manuscript as the best one you’ll ever write, heck, maybe the ONLY one you’ll ever write. Like in romance, there is only the now. Your mate will know if you’re holding something back. They’ll feel cheated—and so will your reader.

Love maintenance rule #3: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I know sometimes we have to be apart from the one we love, but I really don’t subscribe to this adage. I find myself more in the out-of-sight, out-of-mind variety. The same holds for my WIP. Putting it away doesn’t allow it to grow brighter and more lovable in my mind. It simply allows it to go away. Unless you and your manuscript are in danger of quitting one another for good and you need a real break, don’t take one. Keep your WIP on your radar and your devotion to it will stay there too.

…And lest this post come off as me sounding contrary, let me throw out a few pieces of love advice that do ring true when it comes to WIPs:

Set the mood for love. Oh, go on! Light those candles, pick that Pandora station, open that box of Trader Joe’s English toffee and feast! There’s nothing wrong with atmospheric enhancement.

Don’t be afraid to fall hard. Sure there’s a chance this one won’t work out, but you can be sure your WIP won’t see the light of day if you don’t let yourself fall as madly and deeply in love with it as is possible. Love (and write) with everything you’ve got.

* * * *

Okay, friends. Now go take that WIP of yours out and show it a good time. Then get a room and get busy.

(Oh, and feel free to leave any additional love advice in the comments. The more, the merrier!)

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9 thoughts on “Deb Erika Thinks All’s Fair in Love and WIPs

  1. Oh, Erika, you are so funny! I love your love maintenance rules. Just the other day, when I was working on a certain scene in my WIP, I helped set the mood by putting on a dab of perfume. I rarely wear any scent, so catching a whiff of it as I typed really kept me focused.

    As for additional love advice, how about that old line from Love Story: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Which is kind of stupid when it comes to people love — sometimes love means you better say you’re sorry *grin* — but I think it might apply well to WIPS. You don’t have to apologize for anything you write. You might have to edit the hell out of it, but that’s nothing to be sorry about.

    • Oh Linda–perfume–I love it! What a wonderful addition to this. Smell is so huge when writing/setting our scenes.

      And your twist on the Love Story advice is golden. Thank you for that. (And right you are–in love, we all learn that line is bogus. It worked for Ryan and Ali, but the rest of us…not so much 😉

    • Doesn’t love mean constantly having to say you’re sorry? 🙂 But I agree that we shouldn’t apologize for what we’ve written — even if it’s a terrible draft, it’s part of the process.

  2. I particularly like #2 as I’m working on stuff with series potential. I need to TOTALLY put everything into what I’m working out and trust myself that there will be enough stuff to put in the next book when the time comes. Thanks for that reminder that the reader will know if we hold back. Balls to the wall, right? Wait – can I say that here? I mean soccer balls to the wall. That makes sense, somehow. I’m sure it does.
    Here’s my love maintenance rule debunked: Don’t go to bed angry. Sometimes, you just have to put things down, even though there are unresolved issues in the WIP. Sometimes no matter how hard you stare at a screen, answers just don’t come. But often, when I go to bed, my subconscious works away at problems and I wake up with new ideas (or stay up with my mental gears turning, but such is the sleep pattern of the writer, methinks).

    • Yes! That’s a great one, Joanne. There are so many times I’ve refused to give in on a scene that wasn’t working and only when I got up from the screen (and most often it’s at night, so then to bed), only then did the fog lift and the clouds part and all that good stuff.

  3. This post got me thinking about some of the old “truisms” that women were supposed to embody. Like never letting your man see you without makeup, and that kind of thing. There’s one from one of the Gabor sisters…something about men being like fires. If you leave them unattended, they go out.

    So 1950s!

    However, for writing I’d say this is true. We need to find ways to nurture our creativity, especially in times of stress, and especially when we’re full of self-doubt about the WIP.

    • Hi Lisa! You’ve remembered a good one too–yes! Who can’t take a few tips from the Gabors, I ask? 😉

      It really is true for me that I can’t be apart from my WIP too long. Life calls, certainly, and sometimes it can’t be helped, but I find if I’m gone too long, that fire dims and while I can stoke it, I think the words come better with the momentum of that constant attention.

  4. Never go to bed mad? That’s the love advice that I always here and think is bollocks. I’d rather go to bed mad and wake up clear-headed and rational than stay up fighting, suddenly getting myself so worked up and overtired that I turn into a crazytown mess. I know because I’ve been there. Always easier to sleep on it and wake up normal again…

    Not sure how this applies to the WIP. Maybe, it’s ok to leave the desk when you’re frustrated. Sleep on it. You don’t have to solve the problem (a struggling scene, a convoluted narrative arc) in that moment. It’s ok to walk away. Just get up the next day, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and get back to it. It’s ok to go to bed mad as long as you eventually make things right.

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