To get credit for the course I’ve been taking all semester, I have to make a speech about something I’m passionate about. We were specifically asked not to talk about our families, so all my maternal pride has to be squelched. Sorry, kids.

But the choice of subject matter was easy. I’ve been consumed—no, obsessed—with writing. The path hasn’t always been strewn with rose petals, and sometimes I’ve stepped in unpleasant fecal matter. But I thought I’d share with you what I’m going to read in class this week. I hope I’m sufficiently passionate and pass.

Several years ago I got up in the middle of the night. I’d had an argument with my husband and had gone upstairs to sleep and found sleep not forthcoming. I’ve been married forever so fighting is nothing new. I’ve always said I’d kill him before I’d divorce him. However, I’m pretty much a pacifist, so he’s probably safe. So far.

I sat down in the dark and decided to write a romance novel. Now there was a way to get a man to do and be exactly what I wanted. I hadn’t read any romance novels in years, but why would a little thing like that stop me? The fact that I can’t type—I dropped out of an adult typing class one summer so I could go make out with my college boyfriend—see, even back then I was an impractical romantic—was no deterrent either. I didn’t even know there was a word count in the writing program, so it was an enormous surprise to discover after a few weeks that the “book” I had written was only around 25,000 words, only a fourth of what a normal-length book is supposed to be. I regret to inform you that my first effort featured an amnesiac bluestocking who winds up in a brothel. Enough said.

By this time I’d made up with my husband and I told him about the crazy couple I created. He has supported me 1000 percent from the beginning, hoping that somehow I’ll be able to support us in our old age if I ever get published. I had to break it to him authors only get about 25 cents per book, so genteel poverty is still on the horizon.

I did online research about publishing, and wrote a bunch more novellas. Which don’t sell, unless you’re an established author. So I embarked on two real, full-length books, written simultaneously so that sometimes I couldn’t remember which names went where. I also started buying romances, too. I figure I’ll never get a return on my “research” reading investment unless I become the geriatric Nora Roberts.

But I found a world where everyone has a happily ever after. Certainly not like real life. And I read a ton of crap which convinced me if these people can get published, surely I can.

And then my computer crashed. I was wild. So I started writing something in longhand which has recently been finished, 92,000+ words of a romance satire. It’s typed up now. And the two works in progress that were so rudely interrupted by a virus are done. In more ways than one, I’m afraid.

I’m not a plotter. When I write I am a pantser—writing by the seat of my pants— which means there is no outline or even much of an idea as to what’s going to happen, which can be pretty scary. I’ve tried to take notes, but then I can’t read them or remember what the hell I meant by them. When I go back to read my work, I have no recollection of writing some of it. It’s like some body snatcher invaded and took over. I’ll blame this creature if my books never get published. When the snatcher is working, my fingers fly and I have an actual sense of euphoria. I make myself laugh. I’ve never taken drugs but I imagine there’s nothing better than feeling like an accomplished writer—except, of course, for living a real-life love scene.

Right now, I’m querying, which is the worst. It’s so much easier to write a 400 page book than to sum it all up in a one page letter and not look like a crazed nitwit. I need to get an agent; so far I’ve been gently rejected. My critique group seems to like what I’ve written though, my weekly blog is fun (I just got a Thinking Blogger Award—thanks, Jacqueline Barbour!) I did well in the Avon contest in the fall, so somebody thinks I can write. There are positive comments from established authors that I read when I wonder if I’m wasting my time.

I’m giving myself a few more years. Sometimes I’m sorry my husband and I ever had that fight (of course I can’t even remember what it was about) which put me in front of a blank computer screen with a bunch of squirrels tap-dancing in my head. But on the whole it’s been a harmless diversion, garnered me some lovely Internet friends, and saved me from ever watching reality TV. Give me unreality. Give me romance.

What made you “wake up and write?”

Now that I’m a “Thinking Blogger,” I’m supposed to link to blogs I’ve loved. Being technologically challenged, I’m going to recommend all six Romance Vagabonds and call it good. You can check Jacqueline Barbour’s April 23rd blog (at left) for the “rules.”