I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can
Some days this writing gig can make me feel like Sisyphus, pushing that big old boulder up the hill only to see it slip from my grasp and roll back to the bottom.
I suspect many writers feel that way, especially those who write in multiple genres and with more than one pen name. I look at authors like Christina Dodd, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Nora Roberts and I wonder how the heck they do it? Well, in their cases I know – they’re all frigging superwomen!
I, sadly, am not a superwoman, although I do have a few pairs of stretched out tights in my socks drawer. But I also write in multiple genres and with more than one pen name. I write Regency-set historical romances for Kensington Zebra under my own name, and I also write contemporary romance and romantic suspense under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. I have traditionally published books, digitally published books, and I’ve just recently branched out into indie publishing.
Not being superwoman, how do I manage to pull this off?
I have a secret weapon and his name is Randy. He’s my husband, my critique partner (for my historicals) and my writing partner (for the contemporaries and romantic suspense). He’s 80% of VK Sykes, he’s a top-notch researcher, he’s 100% the dude who manages our finances—keeping track of when money is coming in and going out (mostly out)—and constantly reminds me that the writing is supposed to improve the quality of our lives. I can’t emphasize enough how important that last bit it. At our, ahem, age, we’re not interested in diminishing the quality of our lives by subjecting ourselves to punishing schedules, or jeopardizing our security by blowing the bank on advertising or promotional crap that is most likely a waste of time.
For us, it’s about the writing—crafting books we love and which we hope our readers will love, too. So how do we accomplish that without killing each other?
Two words: we’re organized. We talk about what we’re going to do and when, how long it’s going to take, and then we schedule accordingly. We never work on the same book at the same time. If he’s writing the first draft of a VK book, I’m working on a historical romance. When those drafts are completed we switch out—he edits my manuscript while I revise his. This is really important for me. If I had to write two manuscripts at once—especially in different genres—my head would explode or I’d have a nervous breakdown. Randy can probably compartmentalize better than I can, but he claims this strategy works for him too. Establishing boundaries helps, because each particular book belongs to only one of us as we’re working on it. If we tried to work on the same manuscript at the same time, I fear very bad things would happen. This way we have a bit of distance from each other’s heads and a whole lot more sanity.
Sanity’s important, especially for writing partners—especially for married writing partners. If either one of us gets too freaky about our work or we’re fighting over the book, then chances are we’re going to start fighting about something else. When that happens we step back, take a deep breath, and try to do something that adds to the quality of our life rather than detracting from it. That, in turn, leads to happier writers and books we love to write.
And that, we hope, leads to happy readers.
Vanessa’s latest Regency-set historical romance is My Favorite Countess, which received a starred review from Booklist. VK’s latest contemporary romance, Hardball, is now available on Amazon, at Smashwords, and at Barnes & Noble. You can visit Vanessa on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com and find VK at www.vksykes.com.