The life of a fiction writer (like me)

Note: I am not a normal fiction writer. 

One day a few years ago a story popped into my head. So I wrote it down.

Then I shared some of it privately and online.

Next, I saved it in multiple places and subsequently ignored it for weeks. But, every once in a while I took it out, re-read it, added things, subtracted things, and put it away again.

Then I ignored it some more.

While ignoring it, I wrote a sequel chapter. A friend read parts of it and commented in such a way that I took the original story out again and began to re-write it once more.

Until I put it away again.

Is this how novelists work on their stories? Or is it just me, being me?

During the times when I ignored my story, I continued to think up plot and character developments. The story, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, remained on the peripherals of my subconscious mind.

I liked my protagonist, but she seemed a little underdeveloped. She needed more… what? Something.

The man in the story also felt a bit flat. He was too nice. Are men as nice as I made him out to be? He was understanding, patient, kind, compassionate… and particularly skilled around the hills and valleys of his lover’s fleshy geography.

This guy I created as my protagonist’s lover was almost too good to be true.

I wracked my brain trying to write something that sounded … real. I didn’t want him to be an asshole, I just wasn’t happy with how predictable and nice he was.

Once again, I need a break and put the story away.

This time, I ignored it for a really long time. Life happened. Then, my laptop acted up. My backups took too long to back up and I worried I’d lose everything. So I bought a new laptop which in the meantime has a defective keyboard. (Blah. I’m using an external one).

As I filled my new laptop with fresh stories, the old story began to tug at me again. There was something about those characters I couldn’t let go.

So, I searched my backups for the last draft and imported it into my new laptop. I opened the manuscript and began to re-read my story.

I was sucked back in and began to re-write the chapters once again.

Read, re-write, save.

Re-read, re-write, save again.

Wash, lather, rinse.


About a year and a half ago, when I moved out of the family house into a room with a door in the suburbs, I took charge of my story and rewrote most of it. I made lists and created story arches, added new characters into my protagonist’s orbit, injected some mystery into the man she was seeing and expanded her personality as friend, mom, colleague…

The story continued to grow on me. It ignited another spark and sent my creative juices flowing once again.

Here’s something interesting I discovered:

The more I re-read, the tighter the story became. My editing became more focused, I cut out all those superfluous words like ‘that’ and ‘really’, and paid close attention to the visuals which formed in my head when I read my typed words after a lengthy absence. I took out the cringe-worthy passages and continued typing new content. I was on a roll.

One thing that bothered me was my internal voice that kept urging me to gain perfection. Is there such a thing? When agents and editors at publishing houses command absolute perfection, is this perception something that has stopped me in the past? Is this why I fear(ed) publishing in a more timely fashion?

These sentiments certainly caused me pause for reflection.

Meanwhile, I have experience with rejection. I’ve submitted work to contests and slush piles. The rejections however taught me a slew of important lessons in both writing and marketing, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit they affected me more than they should have. (Am I good enough? Maybe I’m not good enough, blah blah blah.) Perhaps that’s why there was such a lengthy period of non-writing – silence – at least with this particular romantic story.

Here’s a lesson I learned:

The person who rejected your story isn’t the right person to publish your story.
That’s all.
There are billions of people on this earth who read books, but not everyone is going to like your book.

So what.

But everyone and their grandmother plus her dog told me to read similar genre and to look at what made them successful in terms of writing style, story plot, even book cover.

I struggle with this.

I find all this extra research gives me analysis paralysis which effectively kills my imagination not to mention my creativity.

But then, writer’s block happens. Whenever I can’t write, I do one of two things: I create items for my Etsy shop, or I read other people’s books.

Of course writer’s block happens to me. Everyone who has ever read any word in this blog knows this about me.

So, when it happened again, I began to read content I don’t normally like to read; cozy mysteries with a romantic element. I searched my library app for books I would never want to add to my physical collection, but whose writing style I wanted to learn from rather than copy.

This is where I saw it, finally:

Perfection – in writing – is rarely obtained. Unless you’re John Irving or Robert B. Parker, to name but a select few, story telling via the written word is not about perfection. It’s about, well, story telling.

I have read many stories by authors whose writing style I have zero interest in emulating, but whose stories I enjoyed nonetheless, to the point of seeking out more of their books.

Reading fiction is a subjective activity in that people read whatever tickles their fancy at any given moment. Readers of fiction are perfectly willing to overlook the odd typo or grammatical inconsistency if the story itself holds their attention.

At least this is how it is for me.

I think many writers, indie and published, struggle with the “leave me alone I’m writing” mentality. When you’re so absorbed in your characters or story outline, you want nothing and nobody to interrupt that flow.

When I’m submerged in my stories, I become a part of the book and want nothing and nobody to interrupt this flow of imaginative creativity.

Sadly, for many of us, this is difficult to achieve. Unless you’re locked in a fort and independently wealthy, you have to learn to cope with interruptions and continue writing whenever time permits. For me, this is often at dawn.

I did what I could with the time I had, and kept writing. I’m still writing.

One day just recently I made an important decision. I looked at my manuscript and decided to divide it up into sections. Why not release the book as a series?

Side note: Yes I have considered Kindle Vella, but at this time, Vella is only available in the US and, as many of you know, I am in Canada.

I made other decisions as well, such as rejecting absolute perfection (because it was unattainable anyway). I also discovered I enjoy book cover design. Dabbling in Canva (which provides a free version suitable for most people who are not professional graphic designers) became a much sought-after undertaking for me. The more I used that app the more I liked it.

What I mean to say with all this preamble is that I finally published Music Lovers – book 1 on Amazon.


Here’s the blurb:

Samantha accidentally meets an enigmatic famous man with whom she begins an unusual liaison. Over the course of a week, she experiences a range of complicated emotions as she struggles with the confusing elements of his celebrity, his indelicate communication style and the mention of a mysterious trip involving an undisclosed hobby.

Music Lovers – book 1 by Claudette Labriola, available on Amazon

The story has changed quite a bit from its original conception, which some of you may have had some initial exposure to. Yes, the early chapters remained mostly untouched, but the second part of book 1 has new developments, which I am currently busy enhancing in subsequent books.

One more thing I want to say about writing:

Remember the cozy mysteries and light romance stories I mentioned I read earlier? I looked them up in my Libby app over the past year. I learned a few things, mainly that there is a place for my continually evolving style of story telling among the many books already published. There is room for all of our books.

There were several books I read by two authors. One wrote ‘cozy mysteries’ out of a Boston beach town, the other created a protagonist who was a writer herself who managed to tangle herself up in various murder mysteries in one of the Carolinas.

None of the stories were particularly intriguing, truth be told. The characters were likeable but rather forgettable…and still, I kept reading.

You might wonder why I read these books to the end of they didn’t grip me with intense curiosity.

My answer might surprise you:

Because I wanted to find out what happened.

If you are familiar with John Irving’s book The World According to GARP, you’ll remember that the cleaning lady in the publisher’s office read Garp’s manuscript all the way to the end despite complaining bitterly to Garp’s editor that she hated the story. Deplored it. But she plowed through to the end to find out what happened.

I read these lighthearted romances or uncomplicated mysteries because I wanted to find out what happened. I may not have been overly stimulated by the story telling itself, but I could appreciated the character development of the protagonists and their posses. The mysteries themselves weren’t earth shattering or complicated, but there were enough twists and turns to keep me reading regardless. I liked the human side of the story telling, the internal dialogue of the characters, the relationships they formed with each other, that sort of thing.

In short, the characters grew on me. I wanted to know how they would grow in subsequent books.

Isn’t that why we read fiction?

So, given that Music Lovers is my very first fiction story I began four years ago, I decided it was time to give it some airtime. If not now, when?

Book 2 is in the works (and the first chapter is revealed in book 1 at the end).

If you’d like to purchase my book, click the button below. Don’t forget to leave a review, I would really appreciate it.


Thank you for reading my post. If you enjoy reading erotica, I have another book out on Amazon called The Man from the South written under my erotica pen name Cassandra Lincoln.


9 thoughts on “The life of a fiction writer (like me)

  1. I can’t say there’s a right way or a wrong way. There’s just whatever way works for you. My novel started out as an entirely different story with an alternate name 11 years before it was published. Even while writing what ultimately turned out to be the final version, I took a nine-month break. You know, while getting divorced and shit.


  2. I think sometimes if you read another writer’s story and it appears disjoined-this encourages you. I had the odd experience of being accepted for publication (my mystery/thriller) by a friend who became a publisher. He and I worked together for 5 years at a college. He passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack and my manuscript sat there for several months before I found out he had passed away. I resubmitted to Barringer Publishing House and my book was accepted!! I submitted to many places. I would like to think he is smiling at me from above. Life is strange. Right now, I am on my second editing and have 3 more to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. disjointed…sorry…I was reading Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd and it encouraged me that everyone has challenges writing and she was published by a well known publisher. I could not easily follow her story line. I did find it encouraging that she was published.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you share your journey and this story that won’t let you go. It seems like you are accessing that deep intuition that pushes you forward. Congratulations on releasing your book, Claudette!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Everyone says dont give up, Rome wasnt built in a day etc but a lot of people spend a lot of time working at stuff. I have a particular aim but the club im trying to break into is strictly members only or a huge slice of luck. Never mind, press on.

    Liked by 1 person

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