Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I have a confession to make. No, not THAT kind of confession. Sheesh! You romance writers are ALL alike!

Many of us were fortunate enough to attend the RWA National Conference in New York last week. Not to rub it in for those who didn’t attend, but it was great! I had a terrific traveling companion (thanks Heather!) and a fantastic roommate I met through the RWA Roommate Forum (the cheesecake is on me in Anaheim, Andrea!) Informative workshops, inspiring speakers at the luncheons and countless other events made this a really wonderful conference for me. My confession? On the drive home from the airport I cried.

For an entire week I lived my fantasy, the life I was always meant to live. For an entire week I was a historical romance writer 24 hours a day and I loved every minute of it. (Even the waits for the elevators!) But once I got off the plane in Birmingham and drove home it was back to reality for me. So I cried.

My reality isn’t really all that bad. I flew back Saturday and have worked every day since at a job that is definitely not my first choice, nor my second, nor my third. Well, you get the point. Hey, in this economy I know I am lucky to have a job. It pays the bills. It pays for little luxuries like toilet paper, running water and living indoors. I’m for all of those things. So, I work at a job I really don’t like and wait for the next time I can live my fantasy.

I see myself as one of those Regency era heroines – married to the old, fat, balding duke with the bad teeth and breath like roadkill (I’m sure they HAD roadkill in the Regency whether they called it that or not.) Yes, one of those women who was told to do her duty, to just lay there and think of England or plan a dinner party or redecorate the drawing room in her head until Lord Death Breath did his business, excused himself and went back to his own room. That’s sort of how I get through every day at work. I live for the day when Lord “I Want to Buy Your Book and Sign You to a Three Book Contract” comes along to rescue me. He needs to hurry up because Lord Death Breath is really getting on my nerves and some days it seems like I’ll have the entire country estate redecorated before he croaks and I can go on to the life I’ve always wanted.

But until that happens, I try to remember what Franklin D. Roosevelt once said.

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

Going to RWA’s National Conference is the knot in my rope. Writing is a solitary business and I reach the end of my rope with it more often than I care to remember. Sometimes when I do I have been fortunate enough to have some awesome mentors, historical romance authors, who take the time to help me tie that knot and tell me all of the reasons I need to keep hanging on. Sometimes it’s my agent. Sometimes it’s my Mom. Sometimes it’s just my sheer ornery stubbornness. But the biggest knot I tie in my rope is the one I learn in the presence of 2000 plus romance writers every year.

A Golden Heart winner after seven finals. A Lifetime Achievement Award for someone who has seen it all in this business. A luncheon speaker who reminds me I have had it easy so far compared to others who have fought their way to that Holy Grail we all seek. A workshop where a light bulb comes on about a certain elusive or confounding aspect of my writing.

All of these things help me to keep tying that knot and keep hanging on. I'm just too darned hard-headed not to and I've had too many people help me tie that knot to let go now.

What or who is the knot at the end of your rope?


Gwynlyn said...

My Sweetheart is my knot. He's also my foothold, my booster, my firmest, most dedicated supporter. He believes in me, considers himself lucky to have found me (I'm not about to burst that bubble!), and even luckier to have claimed me for his own. How can I let him down? I mean, really. He shakes his head at the way my mind works (he's an engineer. We have to forgive him) and took dictation while I drove yesterday---not that I can read his handwriting, but I'll figure enough of it out to get the gist.

Without the people who believe in us, I'm sure many more potential superstars would find other outlets for their creativity. So bring on Death Breath. I have Listerine!

Diana Layne said...

Ah, Gwynlyn, you are so fortunate. No sweetheart here, but I have good friends. I'm very blessed in that way. Louisa, I'm so glad you got to go and enjoy RWA!

Connie Gillam said...

Oh, this is too funny. I read the blog, nodding my head at all the similarities to my life, then I get to the end to find out it's written by Louisa Cornell.

Hang in there, Louisa. There are a lot of us out there in the same boat, wondering when our ship will come in. We are your knot at the end of the rope. We'll get that elusive contract.

Shea Berkely said...

Lovely post, Louisa. The longer you hang onto the rope, the stronger you get. That can only bring good things your way, so don't let go.

Louisa Cornell said...

LOL ! Love that last line, Gwyn!! You are so very fortunate to have your Sweetheart in your life! And he IS fortunate to have you!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Diana we are BOTH blessed in our friends. Those people who are right there with us taking the journey and helping us up when we fall are definitely one of the knots we hang onto when the rope gets short!

Louisa Cornell said...

Connie !! So glad to see you here! Having you be the one to award me the Daphne last week was just so very special to me! My chapter president actually filmed it and put it on Facebook so my family could see it.

And you and the rest of my Pixie Sisters are definitely the knot in my rope over and over again. I would never have made it this far without you all!

And we WILL get that contract!

Louisa Cornell said...

Hi Shea !! What would I do without my Pixie and Ruby Sisters on a daily basis??? And you are so right. The longer I hang on the stronger I become as a writer. It is a process, a journey, not a destination. Thanks for traveling the road with me, my friend!

JoAnn said...

Thanks for a wonderful post, Louisa. I've only be to one national conference and it was terrific. Wish I could go every year!

Beth Trissel said...

I really enjoyed this post, Louisa. All of your posts, actually. You are a witty and gifted writer with a knack for putting your finger on what so many others struggle with. I hope your ship is on the horizon. I think you're brilliant.

Louisa Cornell said...

JoAnn I've been to four conferences and each one has taught me something. Hope you get to go to another one soon!

Louisa Cornell said...


You are so sweet!! We really are all on this journey together and the best way to handle our struggles is together!

Suzie Grant said...

That's a wonderful reminder, Louisa! I'm tying that knot and hanging on myself. Glad to see I'm in excellent company for the ride.

Zach and Sarah Baker said...

Sometimes taking a day away from writing is all I need to stay committed. When we writers feel discouraged, sometimes taking a step away is all we need to see that this is something we were meant to do. As frustrated as I get, I'll never not write. If that makes sense. LOL

Erin Kelly said...

I truly admire your strength and tenacity, Louisa! Knowing the caliber of your talent, I can only assume that your ship was pulled over by overzealous customs agents, but will be coming in shortly!

As for my rope, I am very blessed in many ways, not the least of which is the support I get from both hubby and my fantastic writer and crit friends. Without each other, none of us would be sane, lol!

I'm so glad I could meet you at nationals (even if my crazy schedule kept me hopping), and I look forward to celebrating your big time contract soon! :)

Louisa Cornell said...

Absolutely, Suzie! We'll just keep hanging on and enjoy the ride as the company is always great!

Louisa Cornell said...

Now that is a good idea, Sarah! Stepping back for a day is a good way to get perspective and to get the second wind necessary to keep going for one more day.

Louisa Cornell said...

LOL, Erin, I do like that take on my ship coming in! Lets hope those customs agents get bored and let it go soon!

And hey, you have your own stellar talent going there Miss 2011 Golden Heart Finalist!

The support of family (especially husbands) is such an asset in this business. And I have to agree that our writer friends definitely keep us on the road no matter how many bumps we encounter.

SO good to meet you at Nationals and I look forward to hearing about a big contract for you SOON !

Susan Anne Mason said...

Too funny, Louisa. I'm in the same boat so to speak!

I've read pieces of your work and it's brilliant. I don't know why someone hasn't snapped you up, but I have to believe in God's timing. That he knows better than us what is right for us.

In the meantime, borrow some of that Listerine!


Angel said...

Louisa, This post resonated with me so much. I looked forward to my youngest starting school full time because that would be "my" time. But he'd barely gotten into school when my life started crumbling bit by bit. Now I'm back to working full time (actually 2 part-time jobs) to help our family make ends meat.

This has alternately depressed and frustrated me! I'm having to work really hard to change my way of thinking and viewing this issue. Many times over the past year I've considered pulling the plug, letting that rope slip from my fingers. Why bother trying to squeeze writing into such a hectic life? I still wanted that main prize: Writing life full-time.

But the knot at the end of my rope has been my sisters on the Writing Playground, the Ruby Sisters, and my mentors: Linda Howard, Beverly Barton, and Linda Winstead Jones. Also, when I'm not writing, I'm very unhappy, and that gets me back on that rope real quick. :) It isn't easy. I gave up conference this year because of lack of funds and time off (not even a regional conference like I'd hoped), and I go to a lot of trouble just to be able to attend my monthly local RWA chapter meetings now that my husband works every weekend.

But its worth it. Some day, it will be MORE than worth it. :)

Hugs, Danniele

Louisa Cornell said...


Aren't you sweet! Thank you for the compliments on my work. Definitely a knot in my rope. And yes, all things come in God's good time. So we hang on to the rope and look up every now and then and say "Are you SURE it isn't time yet?" Sometimes we forget that "No" and "Not yet." are perfectly acceptable answers to our prayers, even when we don't want to hear those particular answers!

Louisa Cornell said...

Danniele, I pray your life just gets easier and easier every day. And you are so right! The Pixies, the Rubies, the Romance Magicians and so many other writers have been there for me no matter how low I get to give me a kick in the pants or a shoulder to cry on, whichever I need.

And like you, I can't go long without writing. It makes my entirely too cranky to deal with!