I think it’s about time I start sharing my works in progress. So … here we go (she says with a gulp). Currently, I’m finishing off a rom-com titled ‘You Know You’re a Writer When…’ I’m pitching this at the RWA conference, so fingers crossed it get’s through. I got the idea to write this novel from a very good friend who is a fountain of ideas. She showed me her spreadsheet once full of amazing concepts and we often joke about how she’ll never have time to write all of them so what if she sold them? Then … what would happen if the person who bought your idea hit the big time? Then … what if you fell in love with him?
Lucy Wilson is afraid she’ll end up unsuccessful like her divorced mother – the lonely expense of someone else’s dreams. Instead of tumbling down the same path, she swears off men until she’s made it as a writer. But how does she know when she’s there? Apparently, there’s many ways to tell you’re a writer, and Lucy is determined to check them all off one by one:
- Always write your ideas down – check. (She’s got so many she sells them online.)
- Finish your book – check. (Minus one chapter, but that’s okay, she’s working on it.)
- Get published – check. (Well, her parents think she is; A minor fib soon to be rectified.)
- Have a handsome Thriller writer get famous using one of her plots – check.
Wait … what?
When Lucy discovers author Kevin Sting has built his success on her idea, she wants to hate him and the Gucci moccasins he walked in on. If only she didn’t need his writerly advice.
Kevin has been unsuccessfully trying to make it as a writer for years and then he bought one of Lucy’s plots – Wham! Instant bestseller and a movie deal to boot. Now his publisher has upped the anti, and if he doesn’t come up with an equally winning idea, he’s back to farming at his family business. A desperate Kevin turns up at the vivacious Lucy’s door with an enticing offer – help him plot his sequel in return for help finishing her novel. With charm like his, how can she refuse?
Both are as determined as each other to make it alone, but when push comes to romantic shove, and family problems encroach on their professional lives, they need to decide what’s more important: happiness together, or a successful but lonely career. Can they dare to dream for both?
My short pitch is…
Aspiring writer falls in love with the blockbuster author using her plot.
I’m standing at gate twenty-three of Sydney airport, about to embark on the most appealing adventure I’ve had in ten years, and all I can think is that the person responsible owes me big time.
She owes me for cutting my short holiday even shorter. She owes me for the forty-five minute wait in line behind a large, sweaty, stinky man. And she owes me for the cramp in my arm from holding her box of media merchandise.
‘Eyes forward, Lucy,’ I tell myself. ‘It’s all about the box.’
I shift the awkward package in my hands, careful not to get cardboard cuts, and take a peek inside. Press passes, check. Lanyards, check. Delegate IDs, check. Presenter name tags, check. Itineraries, check. Programs … programs … I shuffle about but find nothing.
Oh no! The programs. I can vividly see them sitting on the counter at Bea’s office, neatly stacked into a pile. Sitting there. Waiting for me. While I’m here at the airport. In line.
My shoulders droop. I’m a terrible best friend. I guess there’s nothing I can do about that now. If I turn back, I’ll miss the flight and Bea will lose her job, right when she’s so close to getting maternity leave and it’s not everyday she gets to manage the publicity of a national writers conference.
I suppose she’s also lucky to have friends with no jobs to tie them down.
Correction: Friend. One. Me.
I have no job.
With a green eye, I watch the Business Class line moving at a faster yet, more leisurely pace. Look at those smug people. All so handsome and clever looking. Ugh. That could’ve been me. What am I saying? That could be me if my parents would share some of their wealth. But no, I have to go and prove my worth first. Ridiculous. You don’t see the Kardashians needing to make their empire from nothing first. No, they’re given money with which to start.
‘It’s so you don’t grow up entitled,’ my father had said. ‘We don’t want you turning into a brat. Not all kids grow up with a father who has three triple platinum selling albums.’
Oh yeah? Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Proving my worth as a writer is hard. I’m starting to lose faith, I’ve ticked off heaps of the items on my You Know You’re a Writer When List. For example, You know you’re a writer when:
- You always write ideas down – check. (I’ve got so many I sell them online.)
You finish a book – check. (Minus one chapter, but that’s okay, I’m working on it.)
You get published – check. (Well, my parents think I am; A minor fib soon to be rectified and the sole purpose of this trip.)
Bea’s lucky I love to write and have no shame in taking the opportunity to rub shoulders with big names, authors and publishers alike. Especially since I told my parents I’ve already got a publishing deal and I haven’t yet finished the book. I can still see the look of pride on my father’s face when I told him. It reminded me of the time he let go of my bike seat when I first learned to ride and melted my heart so much that I had trouble admitting the truth. The lie has been chasing me out of the shadows ever since and now this is make or break for me. The very thought sends a thrill skipping all over my body in anticipation.
I sigh. There’s more to the list but right now the box feels heavy in my arms. I want to rest it down on a chair, but the line is getting bigger behind me. If I move now I’ll lose my place and I can’t lose my place. I booked the exit seat and I want to get in first before the rest of the crowd, sit back and enjoy the hustle and bustle that I’m not a part of. It’s a perfect opportunity for people watching. Which leads me to the next point on the list:
- You eavesdrop on conversations for story research – check. (I check that item every day.)
A baby wails somewhere and a shudder runs through me. God, please no. Please don’t put me next to a crying baby. Not for four hours.
Just think of pseudonyms. That’s a good distraction. You know, they say a good fake name is paramount to godliness in the writer world, so of course I need one.
Lucy Skywalker. I grin. But the grin is short lived. As if Mr Lucas will let me use that name.
L.S. Walker. I nod meaningfully to nobody in particular. Not bad.
Lucy Morticia Sharp. I shake my head. That’s horrendous. Not even for Thriller and Crime fiction, let alone the literary novel I’m writing.
‘… Lucy Wilson …’
No. I don’t want my normal name, I think in a huff. It’s at the end of the alphabet which means I’ll be at the end of the bookshelf for browsers. Less chance that they’ll find my book. Wait. Someone said my name.
‘… please come to the customer service desk … paging Lucy Wilson … please come to the customer service desk at gate twenty-three.’
Not wanting to leave the line prematurely in case I heard wrong, I look to the people in line behind me. From one face to another my gaze flits, waiting for someone to catch my own, affirm my suspicion and usher me urgently along. I see a festively plump woman with flushed cheeks talking to a man and more unknowns further along in the line. When I realise what a ridiculous notion it is to try and decipher whether or not a stranger heard my name based upon their facial expression, I pull my wheelie luggage out of line and head to the customer service desk.
‘Hello,’ I say as I arrive at the counter with a bonafide smile. A glance over my shoulder tells me that I’m now very far away from the line. And it’s getting bigger. With every passing second, another person slots perfectly onto the end. It’s like human Tetris and I’m losing. Soon, there’ll be no room for me. Game over.
Impatiently, I tap my fingers on the desk. ‘I’m Lucy Wilson. Did you call for me?’
A woman with a sleek ponytail clicks away on her keyboard, ignoring my presence. I clear my throat. She holds up a finger.
My jaw drops, shocked. A million retorts race through my mind and I can’t focus on one because they’re all amazing. Then she looks up and stares at me with frighteningly blue eyes. So icy blue they’re almost white, and I imagine they could belong to a snow queen. Or one of those evil husky dogs. Or a serial killer. Ooh. She’d make a perfect bunny boiler character for a horror story, I decide, and start cataloguing other unique attributes. Trying to soak them up so that when I finally get to a notebook, I’ll remember to write them down. She’s got nostrils that fan out when she purses her lips. A mole with a little hair growing out of it under her chin—how could she miss that fashion faux pas when the rest of herself is so impeccably groomed? Because she’s got no time for it. Because she’s been chopping up bodies and storing—
‘Can I help you?’
I clear my throat. ‘You paged me?’
‘Lucy Wilson,’ I repeat, irritated that I’m doing her job for her.
She clicks away on her keyboard. Her nails are filed to sharp points. Like weapons.
‘Oh yes. Miss Wilson. You have the exit seat booked, is this correct?’
‘Yeees.’ I draw out the word, not liking the sense of impending doom balling up my stomach. Her face is blank. Unreadable. Distrustful.
‘We’re so sorry to inconvenience you, but we’d like you to change seats. There is another passenger who is in need of the exit seat we’re hoping you will be accommodating.’
‘Uh.’ I’m gobsmacked. What does this mean? Is someone sick? Or maybe it’s a pregnant lady, or an old crippled person with no money. I shake my head. I don’t get it. ‘I got out of that line thinking I was getting an upgrade to Business Class. You mean to tell me that I’m getting shafted?’
She chuckles. It wasn’t a joke.
‘Well,’ she clicks away on the keyboard, ‘you do fit the profile for an upgrade, let me see what I can do.’
Maybe she’s not a serial killer after all. Maybe people have her mistaken and she’s just had a rough childhood. Maybe nobody bought her Christmas presents and she got potatoes in her sack instead. Hard life. Poor girl.
‘The profile?’ I prompt as she’s searching the screen.
‘You know, a single woman. Travelling alone.’ She gives me a pitiful glance from underneath her false lashes and prints a replacement boarding pass.
Great. Travelling alone. Way to rub it in. I can hear the cheer squad singing ‘You’re single, yeah. You’re single, yeah.’ They’re also pointing at me and holding up signs that say Single and Jobless. I guess at least it won’t be all bad. Business Class sounds good. I’ve never flown Business Class. I can be single and jobless in style.
‘No, I’m sorry. The flight is booked out.’ She pastes a sickly sweet smile over her face and hands me the new boarding pass. ‘But thank you for your accommodation. We’ll page you again if we need to change you back.’ Then she looks to someone behind me and continues, ‘Can I help you?’
And just like that, I’m dismissed.
So … there it is – my current WIP. I hope you like it and if you want to read more, sign up to my mailing list to stay in the loop.