It’s getting cold again, it hasn’t snowed yet here in Iowa, but soon I’m hoping. As I count down to the cover reveal of my second novel, I can’t help but begin to feel those twin prickles of anticipation and fear. I try not to dwell on them too much. Not everyone is going to like what I write, and not everyone is going to get it, the true measure of success, I keep telling myself, is that I didn’t give up. I kept writing and I told the story that I wanted to tell. I was true to myself and my muse and in the end I know that I will always have that to look back on and be proud of.
This is the time of year when I finish up old projects and start in on new ones. Last winter, three new novels were born. In those beginning stages, it was all about the note taking and getting to know the characters better through writing prompts and snippets of dialogue jotted into empty notebooks. As the days past the notebooks got fuller and fuller until the skeletons of stories were formed. There’s a lot of hot chocolate involved in the process, lots of mulled cider and even mulled wine too. Something about spices, whipped cream and snow falling outside help with focus, or maybe its just that everything starts to slow down this time of year and its more peaceful and easier to think.
With each novel the process gets easier, and each time I feel like I learn a little bit more about myself as a writer and about the worlds that my characters live in. Thanks to the time and generosity of my editors, I’ve also learned a great deal about the writing process, unnecessary and overused words, how to streamline my writing and the places where I still need to grow and develop. It’s the growth and development that keep me from getting stagnated, the research and the pintrest boards, the storyboarding and the note taking, the ability, really to always wake up to something new in a way that I never got to experience working outside of the home.
I love the moments when the characters can teach me something about myself, when I can push past the fear of putting something on the page and just do it, no second guessing, no wondering how someone who reads it might respond. I see over and over on the internet the advice to authors to tell the story that they wish to tell and I have been working hard to live that advice and not allow the occasional comments and barbs to make me feel like I need to change it.
There was a time though, when I would have crawled into a hole at the first cruel word. When I would have taken the entire document and deleted it and refused to give in to the urge to write anything for fear that it would be met with hate. It took becoming a mom to two wonderfully unique children and having to deal with them coming home telling me what cruel things were said to them by those who didn’t understand their unique and creative souls to force me to find my inner strength. I knew the right words to tell them, I knew to teach them to stand their ground and never quit being themselves but I also knew that words would be empty and meaningless unless I began to do those same things myself.
So fear of being unique and different and well, me, just had to go, and instead, I had to embrace the fact that I’m happiness when I give in to my urges to be spontaneous and wild and way left of mainstream, be that in my personal life or my work. So here I am, and that BSDM story I’ve always wanted to write is what I’m doing now in Burning Luck, and I wake up each day happy and inspired to let my fingers fly over the keys.
It’s funny, when I first sat down to write Burning Luck, it was mostly just to get Lucky Strike McAllister to shut up, since I couldn’t seem to get him out of my head. I had no intention of starting on another story, especially not with a snakeshifter tale and a rock and roll romance that were in desperate need of being finished, but Lucky was persistent and in the end I’m glad he was. His journey to find a home with Thorn and Cain is a rocky one, but it will sooooo be worth the trip. Good luck and happy writing to those who are still in the middle of their NaNo challenge. The world needs more wonderful things to read.