Facets We Never See Make Us One-Dimensional
Three observations: 1. Most people are multi-faceted. 2. Most people see only one facet of another person. 3. People can let their worlds shrink to just one facet. A conversation with a couple of household-name authors with whom I’ve been long-time friends brought this home to me.
In a previous incarnation, I was a romance novelist. I wasn’t very good at it—though my sales were quite good and some of my reviews were mouth-wateringly good—because I always had way too much plot and the suspense tended to overshadow the romance. The truth is, I was a suspense writer trying to force-fit my books into a genre where I wanted more—much more—than just boy meets girl, encounters obstacles, and love wins all. One of my editors told me once that whether the guy and girl get together was suspenseful enough. I laughed at that because 1. it was a formula-driven romance that guaranteed a happy ending resulting in marriage; and 2. it wasn’t suspenseful enough for me.That book never got published. “Too suspenseful” was the final verdict.
Some of my old chums from those romance-writer days have been left in suspense about my whereabouts, mainly because they’ve seen only one facet of me without realizing there’s a whole person behind the tiny speck of light and color they’ve seen for so many years.
The last commercial hit I had, meaning a book sold to a major publishing house with the intention of big sales, wasDark Revelations, (signed copy available here) in September 2006, part of the Madonna Key series, and the last time I even bothered to submit anything to the really terrific editor I had at Silhouette Books. The book wasn’t romance but rather, part of their women’s action-adventure (Alias-type) line that closed shortly after my novel’s publication. The sales of non-romance novels weren’t as good as stories about alpha heroes. The stats, I was told, showed that career women in general did not want to come home and read about take-charge heroines after they’d been taking charge all day. They preferred to come home to romantic alpha heroes who’d take care of all the decision-making. Other publishers said similar things about their erotica lines—women want dominant men in their bedtime stories, not dominant women with beta males or even dominant women with dominant males. Sigh. And thus my take-charge action-adventure heroine was softened up (only slightly), my editor suggested I let the hero kill off more baddies than my heroine (I didn’t), and the cover concept changed from pissed-off-woman-with-sword to guy-kissing-woman’s-neck, all in the name of recapturing the romance market for books originally intended as women’s adventure. My book was packed with plot and suspense, got great reviews, shocked people by killing off an unsuspected character, and it’s still one of my all-time favs, but the chief complaint was that it was “too dark” and that the ending, while very satisfying, was not the expected marriage proposal and the twosome skipping off into the sunset. She is a grownup, trying hard, struggling with past decisions and a bum knee, strong but fallible.
I guess you could say there was a lot of me in that book. If anything made me realize that, it was running into several old friends who are fairly famous romance and mystery authors.
I hadn’t seen them in several years, and the meeting was really by chance. I’ve since dropped Romance Writers of America, the web forums, and all romance-writer conferences, so I honestly didn’t know what they were up to anymore. I hadn’t bought their books recently or checked their websites, so I’ve had no idea what they’ve been up to. But the thing that I didn’t even think about was that they had no idea, either, of what I’d been up to. To them, I’d died.
“So what happened to you?” they asked. “Aren’t you doing anything at all these days?”
I was taken aback by the question. I haven’t been driving myself crazy with getting another novel published in the romance market and had forgotten how long it had been since I’d mailed off a manuscript to NYC. It just hasn’t been on my radar. At all.
But these colleagues know only one facet of me, that facet being Lorna-the-romance-author. To them, it’s the only visible facet …
Thank you for reading! The complete version of this article is now included in Give Your Life Direction.