I’m probably not the only writer who has a flash drive, a CD, a hard drive or a drawer full of manuscripts in progress. Many of us like to work on multiple projects so if we lose heart while working on one manuscript we can switch gears and sink our teeth into another.
Unfortunately, sometimes when we set aside a project which has become unworkable for one reason or another it might be neglected for weeks, months or even years. When we disregard a manuscript too long, it can become outdated. If that happens, we not only have all the original problems with the story to work out, we’ve also got to update the technology, history, and so forth to keep the novel current.
A few months ago when a contemporary romance I was working on began to give me more trouble than it was worth, I decided to set it aside and go back to working on a young adult novel I’d filed away a short time ago. (It was just a short time since I’d filed it away, wasn’t it?)
I began to search for the YA novel on my current computer and quickly realized the project wasn’t there. It seemed I must have set it aside longer ago than I’d thought.
I looked next on my former computer (wasn’t there), my flash drives (ah, no), my CDs (huh-uh), and finally (gulp) my floppy disks. I found it. <blushing> Turns out, I’d abandoned the project MUCH longer ago than I’d thought.
All of a sudden, I began to wonder just how contemporary my book was going to seem after the passage of so much time. I doubted my target readers for a 2012 YA novel would even know what a floppy disk was.
Unfortunately, once I loaded the file onto my computer using a USB port and a portable “A” drive, it didn’t take me long to realize why I’d abandoned the project years before. I quickly unloaded the novel and put the floppy disk and the portable “A” drive back into the drawer where they belonged.
Since diverting my attention from my new contemporary romance to working on an old YA project didn’t work, I moved onto another task which had been begging for my attention for a very long time.
In 2001, my first novel Montana Match was published in hardcover by Avalon Books (whose publishing rights were recently acquired by Amazon Publishing Company). For quite a while I’d wanted to see this popular book in e-format, but I knew it needed serious updates if it were going to continue to be properly set in the present day. After all, this story about a Chicago matchmaker who travels to Montana to give personal service to her wealthy cowboy client was steeped in the technology of the year 2000.
What did this mean? It meant the thoroughly modern protagonists felt they had the best way to keep up with everything in the world because they could connect their great big desktop computers with the huge monitors to the Internet via phone lines.
In 2000 that was pretty cool, but in 2012, not so much.
I had to pull out my portable “A” drive again in order to load my floppy disk containing the published file of Montana Match onto my newest computer. By the time I’d finished updating and expanding this delightful story I’d added 10,000 juicy words. My contemporary heroine matchmaker was now texting and using wireless connections to access the Internet, e-mail, video chats, etc. via her phone, computer and tablet while she worked remotely in Montana on her business in Chicago.
The newly-titled Montana Matched and its sequel, Montana’s Magic, are now available as e-books in Internet bookstores everywhere.
If you’re a writer, and you’re reading this post, and you’re thinking about dusting off a contemporary manuscript set in the present day which you wrote in longhand in the eighties, you might want to change the part where the paternity of your heroine’s baby is determined by matching blood types instead of DNA. We readers really appreciate a contemporary novel being completely contemporary.