So you may have noticed the new look here on my erstwhile blog… I am turning over a new leaf. I’ve needed to re-commit to promoting Where I Belong and building my author platform for a while now, so this is where it begins.
Since WIB came out in May, I’ve been in an EPIC writing slump. To call it “writer’s block” doesn’t come close to the depth and breadth of the experience. There was this huge emotional ramp up to release day and then nothing but free fall. Having my first book published was a lifelong dream. I’m not kidding when I say that being an author is all I’ve ever wanted. I have been a writer in one guise or another my entire career, but this was different. I had checked that box on my bucket list and was left wondering… What now?
So I tried to do what I’m supposed to–go back to the word mines and work on what’s next. I was supposed to roll right into the next story set in the same world as Where I Belong. But I couldn’t write anything. The well of ideas and inspiration was completely empty and the harder I pushed the further away it all felt. So I backed off for a few weeks and worked on a dozen other non-romance writing things that have been languishing on my to-do list. I hoped a break would be enough.
It wasn’t. The trough just seemed to get deeper. That’s when I felt the stealthy depression and anxiety creeping up on me. I went into Self-Care mode and actually talked to Sunshine Smartypants about what was happening. She’s really, really good at helping me find the root cause of an episode like this. The conclusion we’ve come to is that I was putting too much pressure on myself to be a “successful author” rather than just writing, and eventually publishing, stories I’m proud of and letting go of all the shit I can’t control.
WIB holds parts of my heart and soul in its pages and it was sent out into the world to be judged by readers and the marketplace. When WIB wasn’t immediately as successful as I’d hoped, in terms of sales anyway, it felt like confirmation of every doubt and insecurity I’ve ever had as a novelist. I’m still trying to change my definition of success and I have to admit that receiving a few really stellar reviews helped immensely.
Once I pivoted to a plot bunny not connected to WIB at all and just wrote what makes me happy, things started to improve. My weekly word counts are still below where they used to be but my little boat is slowly righting itself.
In case you’re wondering, what I’m working on….
- A Prince Among Men
A fluffy, tropey, royal wedding story. What would happen if the heir to the throne of a heretofore overlooked micro-nation in Europe were gay and wanted to marry an ordinary, American, elementary school teacher? This is my active work-in-progress.
- How it Goes and Why on Earth
Both are follow-ons to Where I Belong. One is the story of Harper’s ex, country music star, Erik Montgomery and an older corporate lawyer that seems like it’s going to get a little kinky. The other is the story of Lucas’s ex, Drew Oberlin, a successful venture capitalist/angel investor, and the owner of a surf shop on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Neither is much past the basic story arc/character development stage.
- Rhythm & Rhyme
This is a big departure for me, mostly because it’s F/F. This is the love story of Dr. Cadence (Cady) Matthews, a math professor at a small women’s college in Maine and Rachel Farmer, spoken word poet and popular YouTuber, who comes to the college as a writer-in-residence for the semester. These characters defy stereotypes all over the place. This one has some actual words written.
- A Patchwork Family
This is the one about Marcus, the divorced, African American, dad in his early 40s with 5 hard-to-place kids adopted through the foster system, and Wade, a graphic designer in his mid/late twenties who grew up the only child of a hippie/Buddhist/midwife single mother. Patchwork is ready to be written as soon as I’m ready to turn in my subscription to Chickens-R-Us
So that’s where my writing life stands right now. It isn’t all puppies and rainbows, but I’m back to being comfortable with where I am right now and that’s more than enough.
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments if the spirit moves you,