Sometimes You Need to Shut Down the Business Side of Your Brain

By Vella Munn

Vella MunnShe was a tiny thing, several inches shorter than my 5’2” and maybe one hundred pounds. Her lovely white hair had been professionally styled, she had flawless skin and sparkling eyes, and her pink smock appeared to have just been washed and ironed. In contrast I looked like something the cat had hauled in because I’d been running errands. (My story, my explanation) I was there for my yearly mammogram while this darling 80 year old woman was a clinic volunteer. Her job was to guide me to a changing room. “Are you the writer Vella Munn?” she asked. Surprised and wishing I’d washed my hair, I confessed I was.

Turned out she’d read every one of my nine Native American historicals. They’d resonated with her because several were set in California where she’d lived with her husband of 47 years before his recent death. My stories in some small part took her back to their time together. She cried, I got misty eyed, and we hugged.

On my way home, I turned on the radio. Neil Diamond, who I would have run away with if he’d known I was alive, was singing. It was a cold afternoon but the sun was shining.

Just like that I was transported back to those innocent and heady days when it was all about the writing—when I didn’t concern myself with the business aspect of this career I’ve been addicted to forever. With the music as loud as my ears could handle and the sun on my shoulder, I embraced a raw thrill I haven’t felt for years. I vowed to again get drunk on writing.

For years I’ve been telling new writers to treat what they’re doing like a business. We have to. Otherwise we don’t stand a chance. Publishers are there to make money. Much as an editor might love a writer or manuscript, if she doesn’t believe it’ll make a profit for the company she won’t/can’t buy it. The publishing world is constantly changing. Genres move in and out of favor, hot becomes cold, a book no one saw coming breaks all sales records and the charge to duplicate begins. We must be informed, realistic, to shift with the market.

I get it. I wouldn’t have sold over fifty books for mumble-mumble publishers if I wasn’t committed to keeping my fingers on the publishing pulse. I also educated myself about self-publishing and hung out my own shingle. I pay the bills with my writing and that’s how the IRS has long classified me.

But I’d lost the pure joy of burying myself in a fictional world and suspect I’m not the only one. All this time we spend staying informed takes us far from the stories in our hearts and souls.

Near Crater Lake
Near Crater Lake

Even before meeting that 80 year old woman I’d been coming back to my roots, to when everything was about character and emotion. I’d spoken at this year’s RMFW conference and afterward my buddy Lynda Hilburn and I took off for the mountains. (I live in Oregon and had never been to Colorado.) We sat on a patio overlooking a rushing creek drinking wine and watching/feeling a storm come in.

Suddenly it was there, maybe blown my way by the fierce wind, the kernels of a four-book romance series about something that has always resonated with me—the wilderness.

I came home, cleared the decks of other writing projects (I’ve been doing a lot of erotica) and spent a day sketching out the series and pulling characters out of that place in all writers’ minds where characters wait to be brought to life.

Early in November I got started. I didn’t have much of an idea about where story #1 was going, just that life hadn’t been easy for this man and woman and they need each other and the mountains that represent second chances for them.

The words have been flowing from me and I’m approaching each writing stint with a joy I’d forgotten was possible for, I believe, one reason. These characters and their stories tap into what’s true about me. What matters to me.

Munn_TouchOfTheWolfSo if I have any advice, it’s to shut down the business side of your brain and write from the core of what you are as a writer and a human being.

Promo time: Touch Of The Wolf, a paranormal romantic suspense with Entangled’s Ignite line releases on Dec. 30. The story is set in Washington state’s Olympic Forest. Hey, you can’t take this gal out of the country. It’s all I know or want to.

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