Sunday, July 26, 2009

Inspired and Perspiring

I am blessed to be part of a group of writers who serve as readers, cheerleaders, advice-givers, and all-round support system for one another. These women, some newly published, some soon-to-be-published and some yet-to-be-published, are honest, smart, funny, caring, and young. That last quality may seem irrelevant, but I see it in neon letters as bright as a Vegas marquee because it is the quality that separates me from my writing friends. I think they would describe me as honest, smart, funny (at least occasionally), and caring. But no one can truthfully describe me as young.
Sometimes I fear that difference diminishes my chances of succeeding in the genre we all love. The romance writers I know who belong to my generation are genre stars who have been publishing for decades, not aspiring novelists hoping for a contest win or a call from an agent.
I’m all too conscious of Time’s winged chariot, and I admit there are days when the writing is not going well that my age becomes an excuse to give up on the dream. My inner critic rants not only about the lack of plot and the ineptitude of my writing but also about the futility of a woman of my years trying to break into romance. I think longingly of the time when I was only a reader of romance fiction and limited my writing to genres I could reasonably expect to be unaffected by my years.

Imagine my surprise when I read that Pearl Wolf, whose debut romance novel, Too Hot for a Spy, was published by Kensington in March of this year, is 79. Wolf has a second Fairchild novel scheduled for release in 2010 and four more books in the series planned. Reading her story revealed my concerns for the pitiful excuses they were. Thomas Edison famously said, “None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” Ms. Wolf provided the inspiration. Now I’m perspiring heavily as I struggle with a synopsis and query letter, and I’m saying here in my very first Just Janga blog in front of you and God and everybody that by summer’s end I will be querying for The Long Way Home and be well on my way with Book 2.

Have you ever found inspiration unexpectedly?


J.K. Coi said...

Janga, I love your new blog! And as a first post, you had me worried there for a moment, but I'm so glad that you're not giving up. You're an inspiration, a fabulous, gifted writer whose prose is uplifting and elegant (what I've been privileged to read). Here's to your certain success in the very near future!

terrio said...

To answer your question, I just did. I've had a horrible weekend, but this made me truly smile for the first time all day. When I first started reading this one, I thought I was going to have to point out Ms. Wolf's story to you. But then I should have known you'd be a step ahead of me. :)

I never think of you as an age, just as a wonderful, amazing woman I've been fortunate enough to *meet*. I thank you for your friendship and know that I'll be squeeing and whooping my head off the day you get that contract. No ifs about it.

Tris said...

Janga, I love your new blog =D

I believe music inspires me. It gets me going and gives me inspiration to write. I was inspired to start writing by all the encouragement of the BB.

Janga, you're a fantastic person. A total inspiration in yourself! Good luck with the synopsis and queries!

Kelly Krysten said...

Janga, you are the coolest person ever and I've loved interacting with you online for some time now. You will get published! And the mere fact that you keep plugging away shows me what a strong woman you are. I feel the same, though. Except my age problem is that I'm considered too young and thus not serious about my goals. But when I really think about it is age really a problem for either of us when it comes right down to it? As long as we make our way to writing a good product I doubt anyone would count us out for age.:)

And like Ter I am so looking forward to squeeing over your book deal. Great post. Very well done as always.

Kelly Krysten said...

PS: I love the new blog. Very nice.

Maggie Robinson w/a Margaret Rowe said...

Hey. I could have written this blog, LOL! I keep thinking of Grandma Moses, who didn't start painting until she was in her seventies and executed 25 paintings in the last year of her life (101 maybe?). Age is just a number, altho I must tell you I'm contemplating Botox for Nashville.:) Keep writing, or else!

quantum said...

Nice web site Janga.

I'm also getting on in years. Only recently my son impudently asked "do you still do it dad?". The cheek of youngsters these days!

He was of course referring to my physics research. :wink:

I think that age is an advantage for writing romance novels, at least the sort that I like to read.

You have experience, knowledge, skill and an understanding of emotions and personalities that can only come with age. You have been there, done it, observed it, and distilled any available wisdom.

You now just need to draw on that experience for a deep thoughtful romantic perspective on life.

Knowing the insights displayed in blogs, I will definitely want to be in the queue to buy 'The long Way Home' when it appears.

Wearing my pompous Don's attire for a moment ....I hope you will forgive me this once.... I think that of all the budding authors who once graced the original EJ BB, for me you showed the greatest latent writing potential. I can't wait to see it in blossom!

Great debut Janga. *smile*

Franzeca said...

Hang in there, Janga.
Remember Helen Hooven Santmyer, the retired academic whose fabulously successful _And Ladies of the Club_ was published when she was 88.

I'm finding that age has helped me focus more, there's fewer distractions and disturbances. Also, I'm older than all the authors I work with--I'll retire before they do.

Be patient with yourself, and remember to have fun on the way.

Janga said...

Thanks, J.K. You Vixens are my example for discipline and perseverance.

Terri, if I do succeed, your belief in me will be one of the reasons. It would be fun to acknowledge you as one of my expert sources for TLWH too.

Tris, the EJ/JQ board has seved as impetus for many of us to start writing romance. I sometimes wonder if Eloisa had any idea where her bb would lead. LOL

Thanks for the good wishes, Kelly. I never thought about the other end of the age continuum creating problems. But you are a match for any obstacle. I look forward to joining your squee party.

Janga said...

Maggie, my friend, it's such a comfort to know I can count on you and PJ to get all my cultural references that sail over the heads of all these youngsters. :)
I hope to be in Nashville too, but I think I need more than Botox. Maybe I'll find some polyjuice potion and show up as Helen Mirren.

Ah, Q, you're great for my ego. It was a blessed day for the bon bons when you became part of our world.

Thanks for the reminder, Franzeca. If I can emulate Santmyer, maybe I'll have a shelf full by the time I reach 88.

Bouquets of gratitude to all of you for helping me inuagurate my blog. :)

PJ said...

Love your new blog, Janga! I'm so glad Ms. Wolf has provided you with the needed inspiration because you're just too good to give up the dream. There's a depth and maturity to your writing that has been evident since our early days on the EJ board and I cannot wait to see that wit, humor and emotion brought forth in a book gracing the shelf at my local store.

I hope this new energy and dedication to your dream means that we'll be seeing you at M&M in October!

MistyJo said...

Janga, I'm loving your new space! Count me in the squeeing group for when TLWH is published. You'll be an overnight success!

As for being inspired unexpectedly, the answer is "YES!" My family is the unexpected part. I went through my teenage years hoping that I was related to them, and now, their lives create my stories. I relish every insane moment; however, laziness and procrastination are my enemies.

BTW...Nashville 2010 or bust! LOL! I can hardly wait.

MistyJo said...

OOPS! the words "hoping I was related" should be "hoping I wasn't related." Just shows that I should never type while taking pain killers. I could have never been one of Romantics creating masterpieces while under the influence of narcotics!

linda said...


One of my favorite mystery author was Virginia Lanier; she wrote the "Bloodhound" series. If I remember correctly she was telling her husband that she could write a better mystery than the one she was reading, and her husband told her "well do it." Her first book was published when she was in her mid 60's.

Just remember when your first book comes out that we all get a signed copy. :)

linda m

Beth said...

Hi Janga,

I left a comment last night, I guess it didn't take. Good luck with your new blog and I can't wait till you get that yes letter from your future publisher.

Janga said...

Thanks for the encouragement, PJ. It's marvelous to see Ms. Wolf so matter-of-fact about her age. I'd love to attend M&M, but I'll have to see how the health issues play out.

Misty Jo, I love your stories about your family. I think you could use them as the base of a whole series of Southern comedies.

Linda, I've read some of Virginia Lanier's books, but I didn't know she was in her 60s when she was first published. Thanks for another inspiring story.

I'm sorry about the lost comment, Beth, but I appreciate your trying again. Thanks for the good wishes.

Santa said...

Sorry it took so long to pop by here. I had the pleasure of having dinner with Pearl Wolf while at National. I was sitting alone about to order when she came and asked if I wouldn't mind a dining companion. I didn't.

What a marvelous meal we shared. Sure it was just burgers and fries but we chatted about writing, life, food, NYC. It turns out she lives in NYC and is my chapter mate.

And Janga, when she told me her age, I thought of you. Published at 79. You see Janga I sometimes feel like you do. A wee bit older than the rest with some more life experience under my belt than most. I think I am the next oldest in the group. No one gets my cultural references either. Sigh, but no matter. In less than a week I turn 46 and for the first time in my life I see the next decade as looming in big, dark, foreboding letters. But I can't make that yet another deterrent to achieving my writing goals.

I have every confidence that you'll be published in short order.

Janga said...

San, thanks for stopping by--and thanks for your confidence in me. It means a lot.

And with the media proclaiming each decade the "new whatever," you are practically a child. :)Your squee day will come!

irisheyes said...

Janga, how did I miss this?!!!! I'm sorry I'm late to the game.

I love your new blog and I guess just the fact that you have one and we will all be graced with your lyrical prose and musings.

Age is a fear for almost anything out there. I know I feel it all the time... I felt clueless in my teens, hesitant in my twenties, empowered in my thirties. My forties started out great but I'm hoping now that I've kind of got my head together my body will keep cooperating! I find I love the knowledge and experience growing older has given me but I want the body of my twenty year old self back to enjoy it all. Fate's joke on us all, I think.

What I do know for sure is that yours is a voice that screams to be heard. I, for one, cannot wait to be standing at Borders with a copy of your latest release in my hand (as I look over my shoulder with a big smile on my face telling the person behind me in line "My friend wrote this!")

JulieJustJulie said...

Yes ... its called ... Janga.