Friday, April 06, 2007

Slip Sliding Away

Some changes in our lives or writing styles are so dramatic that their impact is unmistakable. Both my move to the States and my decision to switch to writing historical mysteries and thrillers obviously fall into this category. But other changes are so gradual they sneak up on us.

I am pondering these changes as I sit on a beach in Florida. It occurs to me that at most points in my life I could look back over the previous six years and name a dozen or more countries I’d visited in that span of time. But since moving to the States, I have only been to Paris (very briefly) and Morocco. That’s it. In fact, I haven’t even traveled out of the Deep South within the States.

This isn’t the result of some conscious decision; it’s just…life. I’ve been focused on getting settled in a new country and remodeling our house, on helping children negotiate the path through high school and into college and, in one’s case, into law school. And then came Katrina to swallow nearly twenty months and counting. Did I notice this shift in focus as it was happening? No. The funny part of it is, in the last six years my CHILDREN have been to Europe and South America, Africa and the Pacific. Mom now stays home and writes feverously to pay for all of this. I’m only in Florida because Daughter Number Two and I came here to look at a college (that's a picture of the college, not St. Pete's Beach).

In one sense, this trip fell at an opportune moment because it has given me some down time to consider my editor’s revision suggestions. She thinks ARCHANGEL is too fast paced and needs more character development. Now, if you’ve ever read my historical romances, you’ll know how funny this is. There was a time when I wrote very character-intensive books. But I’ve been picking up the pace because I’ve noticed that fast-paced books are more likely to hit the bestseller lists. Another gradual change, one that in my editor’s opinion, at least, has gone too far (but then, she was a fan when I wrote historical romances).

So now I find myself wondering what other changes have taken place in my life and my writing that I haven’t noticed, that just “happened” as a part of the natural progression of life and storytelling. I watch the waves crash into shore, listen to the sea gulls cry, and I could be anywhere—Mykonos, Alacante, Cannes, Aqaba. How the hell did I end up in Florida?

On another note…Steve Malley and others have made some great comments on my last post, and I’ll be revisiting that subject again over the next week.