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Pangs of Doubt

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

January is proving to be rather grim. I’ve blamed a variety of things–time change, cold weather, weird (tornado) weather–but I think it all comes down to one thing: self doubt.

The current project is outside my comfort zone, which is definitely not a bad thing. We need to grow, and I wanted to challenge myself with this “fantasy Regency” crossbreed. However, I doubt that I have an authentic historical voice. When I mention this project to others, they’re surprised that I’m working on a historical. I’m rather surprised myself.

The premise is fantastic. I’ve got a 3-ring binder packed with notes. I’ve drawn castles and maps, researched Crusades, castles, alchemy, and of course, the Regency era. I’ve read tons of Regencies over the years, from Christina Dodd to Amanda Quick to Jenna Petersen. Of course I’ve read the original Jane Austen. I own P&P (both recent versions) and S&S on DVD. My first short stories were Regencies, and they both were contracted by Arabella before they went belly up.

I really thought I could do this.

But as I begin drafting words in January, the doubt creeps in. Whatever I do, I’m going to sound like an American (from the hicks of Missouri!!). I’m not ever going to have an authentic British voice, and that’s okay. This story is NOT a traditional Regency, far from it. Yet I also don’t want a “fluff” Regency. i.e. throw a few slang words in from the Regency lexicon and describe the clothes a few times, and voila. It’s Regency! I hate that. If my characters were naked through the whole book, would anybody realize it was a Regency setting?

That’s what I’m afraid of. Which means I don’t have much to show in January yet, only 4,260 in actual new words (2,656 in outlining the story, which still isn’t finished, by the way). I’m torn. The fantasy elements of this “Regency” are very strong. I hoped they’d be enough to outweigh the obvious, that I’m not a historical writer, but perhaps not. Perhaps I should just make the damned story fantasy loosely based on a Regency-like culture.

Reading the fantastic The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne and Passion by Jude Morgan has only increased my doubt.

Is this doubt justified, or merely my mind searching for a way to do something easier? Should I set this project aside yet again and work on something else, or keep plugging away? Decisions, decisions.

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