Harlequin American author Leigh Duncan believes solid relationships lay the foundation for true happiness. Married to the love of her life and mother of two wonderful young adults, Leigh writes the kind of books she loves to read, ones where home, family and community are key to the happy endings everyone deserves. Her debut book, The Officer’s Girl, is in stores now.
Leigh (who is a friend of our own Keri Ford!) says:
In November, when I received the fantastic news that Harlequin American would buy my second book, an April 15th deadline seemed like more than enough time to write it. After all, I already had three solid chapters and a synopsis in the proposal. Even better, I’d taken April Khilstrom’s Book In A Week class, so I had a rough draft. A very rough draft, but a rough draft. So, six months seemed like plenty of time.
Anyone see the first flaw in my reasoning? Yeah, mid-November to mid-April is five months, not six. Throw in my son’s out-of-town wedding, edits for my first sale, The Officer’s Girl, Christmas, the flu (twice), and before I knew what happened, I had a book to write and three months to complete it. Now, before you push the “That’s Easy” button, I should probably tell you that I’ve completed five manuscripts. Each of them took, well, let’s just say longer than three months. Oh, and that first draft? Well, it looked a whole lot rougher once the revision letter arrived. In short, to make this deadline, I’d have to resort to drastic measures.
I cancelled trips, put friendships on hold, postponed doctor’s appointments and even bought a treadmill so I wouldn’t waste time going to and from the gym. (That last part didn’t work so well. As everyone knows, treadmills make dandy clothes racks.) No lunch dates. No shopping excursions. Not even a manicure or pedicure. (Oh, the horror!)
Instead, I wrote. Ten hours a day. Six days a week. For fifteen weeks.
You may have heard me say it takes a village to write a book. Most of the people in mine were understanding, if not gung-ho, about my self-imposed exile. Some, however, not so much. One, in particular, kept calling to ask, “Why? Why work so hard?”
I’ve asked myself the same question. All writers do. The answers are as varied as our many genres.
Money motivates a lot of writers. Or maybe we should word that, the dream of making lots of money. To be honest, most writers don’t make enough to buy our own private, tropical islands. (I’ll be very happy when my writing earns enough so I can take a vacation on one.)
Fame motivates other people to write. Who doesn’t want the star treatment? A hotel room with a view other than mine, which usually overlooks the a/c unit? But I’m getting an awfully late start to achieve that notoriety. So, fame isn’t where it’s at for me.
As Easter approached, one of my writers’ groups discussed altruism as a reason for writing. I stand in awe of those who write “for the greater good.” I wish I could be that selfless, but writing is hard work and, sadly, I’m not very good saint material.
The past few weeks, a couple of reviewers have said some very nice things about my first book. (Just in case you’re interested, The Officer’s Girl is available now from Harlequin American Romance.) At Romance B(uy) the Book, Becke Davis said I gave the term “beach read” a whole new meaning (in a good way). Crystal at CK’S Kwips and Kritiques called The Officer’s Girl “heartwarming” with “very believable characters” and said my secondary characters were “brilliant.” Venus at Coffee Time Romance & More said I created “a strong story from its stormy beginning to its happy ending. The setting is a fabulous choice and the description so realistic that I could almost smell the s'mores at the (storm) shelter.”
Great words, right? They definitely gave me warm fuzzies. But as any writer will tell you, the journey from pen and paper to the book shelf can take years. That’s a looooong time to wait for accolades.
So, why write? For me, it’s a calling. From the time I learned to read, I’ve dreamed of seeing my words in print. And now that I’ve finished the second book (thank goodness!) and sent it off my editor, I’m poking my head out of my self-imposed exile, to ask you a question—If you write, why do you do it? And if you don’t write, what is your passion, and why do you pursue it?