Nothing about this is easy. If any part of it was, then I would probably lose interest, and quit. I love that about myself, and I hate that about myself sometimes, too.
I’ve spent the better part of my life either holding on or letting go, never in the right places, but I don’t think that makes me a snowflake. We all do that. I think it might just be life, or as close as we get to that, and all it means.
There are many questions that you will see over and over again in author interviews. Where do your ideas come from? How do you start writing? How much of you is in the story you are telling?
There are standard answers you will see, as well. My ideas come from everywhere. You start writing by opening up Word, or getting a piece of paper and just putting it down. You write what you know.
I’ve never seen anyone ask, why do you write? And if I did, the answer would probably be more varied because to me, the why of it is the real question. My answer is because I have to. Part of me has always known this, but I ignored that for years. Looking back, I think I didn’t write for so long because I was engaged in some kind of self punishment for some real or imagined slight. Writing makes me happy, and I didn’t think I deserved to be happy, so I found reasons to not do it.
Sometimes, I still engage in that, and refuse to let myself write, all the while wondering why it is so easy to do things that tear me down, and so hard to do something that makes me feel like my existence is meaningful and real and valid. Then I think, you write what you know, and I realize that my years spent not writing were still not wasted, because I was learning things that I could someday write about, if I learned to love myself enough to accept that gift. And I do see writing as a gift. Not because I think it’s great writing, or that it will make a profound impact on the world, but because of the way it feels inside me when I do it.
Sometimes, to write, I have to make myself stop thinking. My logical mind wants to plot and plan out everything, while my creative mind wants to just make pretty stuff, and invite you all over to share the finished product. I think this is why I like music so much. I can put a song on repeat and calm my logical mind into silence so that my creative side can cover herself in paint and glitter, and make stories. It’s a trick, probably even a cheap one at that, but it does work, most of the time.
So, the writing part for me is making the rational side of my brain shut up, and letting my creative side free, but nothing about this is easy. Even when you have an idea, it can be hard to land, because as the story starts to flow you have ideas about what you want to see happen, but so do the characters you are creating. I know how that sounds, but for me at least, it’s true.
They want things, need things, and as you invest and grow them you want to give them those things, because you care about them, but because of who I am, and the things I know, I can’t always give them those things. I’m not made that way, at least not completely. Sometimes, yes, because sometimes there is a HEA, but if I am true to the characters and the things I know, it’s not something that I can promise, or even want to promise.
This is where my rational mind wakes up, and starts telling me that I have only two choices. Either tell the story the way I want to tell it, or tell the story the way others want it to be. My creative side rebels, and starts demanding a third option, and around we go, arguing and not writing.
My creative side wants to live in fields of rainbows where unicorns graze and HEA is an everyday occurrence, and my rational side sighs in frustration, and demands to know why I tricked it to sleep if I wasn’t going to tell a real goddamned story that reflects the things I know. When the fighting is done I wind up in the middle, tired and bloody, and wondering if I should quit.
The answer is no, because none of this is easy. If it were, I would probably lose interest, and quit.
And we’re still not writing.
My first publishing experience was more about the technical aspects than the creative. How do you upload to Amazon, B&N, etc, and how do you format a file, which if you have done this, you know is no simple thing. Each vendor wants a different format, and figuring them all out was a challenge. The story was already written, so I was able to focus on learning the technical stuff when it came time to put it out there. However, once the tech was conquered I learned that marketing is hard, and the story I had written was genre bending, which added another layer of complexity I was completely unprepared to handle.
The first book, Dreams is all about the two lead characters, and the start of their relationship. I wanted it to be so intimate that you felt as though you were a part of their story. I think I did that. There are heaps of sex scenes, rather hot ones, I think, as they find their way through figuring out who they are as individuals, and whether they work together.
When it came time to label it, I chose to use the word EROTICA. I did that because I didn’t want to fool anyone. Logically, I thought, that if someone was brave enough to read the book, I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable with unexpected graphic intimate sex. Looking back, I think the word EROTICA was a death knell for the audience I was trying to reach, because it seems EROTICA has come to mean BDSM, and that is not what Dreams is about. I should have used ROMANCE, PARANORMAL ROMANCE specifically, but I was trying to make sure that the reader was ready for the journey they were undertaking.
I found out quickly that EROTICA is almost impossible to market as a new indie author. Amazon will not advertise it for you, even if you pay them. Most of the bloggers I approached turned me down flat because they “didn’t review those kinds of books,” a decision that seemed to be based solely on the label EROTICA. The fact that it was PARANORMAL, about a girl and her vampire, closed the doors on sites that handled EROTICA, and the fact that it was EROTICA closed the doors on PARANORMAL sites.
The second book, Nightmares, is different still. The characters maintain an intimate adult relationship, but we move into THRILLER/ADVENTURE, and so the people who refused EROTICA are now uncertain they want to read the second book at all, because I changed the genre, from their perspective, and so on with the third, which adds in other elements, but still has healthy adult relationships happening with the characters.
I share this because these are the arguments behind my rational mind telling me I have two choices. Tell the story you want to tell, or tell the story that people want to read. I still want the third option.
These experiences have challenged my ability to tell a story. They have made me hesitant to follow my muse, because what good is a story that no one reads? Is it like a tree in the forest?
I love the entire Dreams Series. I am incredibly proud of it as well. I love the female lead who knows her mind and is strong and capable and doesn’t shy away from her wishes or her choices because she has learned in her life that things don’t come easy, and how to hold on to something really good when you find it.
The people who have read the series have only kind things to say, and seemed to have enjoyed it, which makes me happy. It also makes me sad because my failure to market it successfully has deprived so many of a chance to share in this adventure. I wouldn’t go back and change anything about the story, only the label my rational mind insisted on of EROTICA.
And here I am, still not writing.
Will I be an author who tells cut and dried easily labeled stories that do not contain sex because that’s what most people seem to want to read, or will I just tell a damned story the way it wants to be told, and break all the rules because that’s who I am and what I know, even if there seems to be no place in this world for the kinds of stories I tell?
My characters want things, my readers want things, I want things. How do I find the place where all these things converge?
And that’s where my creative mind comes in covered in paint and glitter, and starts to dance around singing about making something pretty. It’ll be fine, she says, hopping from one foot to the other. Let’s just tell a story!
She looks so happy, I can’t tell her no. So, I’m going to turn the music on, stop thinking for awhile, and just write.
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