I just completed my second novel. It’s with beta readers as I type. I ‘ve always considered myself a woman who has a lot of patience. I can wait until the cows come home for most things (and I don’t have any cows…). I also don’t have a lot in the way of feelings and have often been told I have a personality much like a man, (I’m a little mouthy, so sue me…) which I take as a compliment. Put all that stuff together and I still find myself completely nervous, unsure of myself, and totally impatient as soon as I hit that send button to beta readers. I even think this second time might have been a bit worse than it was before.
When I hit the send button sending my manuscript the beta readers yesterday I didn’t know why it felt so overwhelming but after spending the day cleaning (cause it’s what I do when I feel things) I think I’ve figured out what it was that had me temporarily paralyzed with fear to have this second book out into the world (even though it’s only with a few eyes for now).
I wrote Little Gray Dress because I’m a writer. It’s somewhere in my soul. I just really needed to push myself after years of writing and see if I could even do it. I did. The book did well too. MUCH better than I’d ever expected it would. It’s sold thousands and hit number one on Amazon categories a few times (if you’ve bought, read, or reviewed it THANK YOU) within the first month of release. UNBELIEVABLE for my first book. I’m still in shock and it’s been six months.
That said, I’ve started and trashed literally about a dozen manuscripts over the last year. All with generally the same ideas but I just could not find the right characters to voice it. Why was it so hard for me to write another book? I couldn’t figure it out. I knew it was in there because I’d done it before.
Then I met Henry Decker and Ambri Jennings. The leads in my new book. They were not quiet. They were screaming that they needed to tell this story I’d had on a loop in my head for a year. THEY were my narrators and they needed to be heard and I finally listened. I sat at my computer for weeks literally typing sometimes twelve hours a day. I wrote and rewrote scenes until I had something I liked and then I rewrote it. And as I did I discovered something about myself as a writer.
2 things were paralyzing my writing ability.
Thing number one – Because my first book had done unexpectedly well, the pressure to write another that was at least as good if not better was suffocating for me. I couldn’t write the story I was dreaming because it wasn’t coming out the way it needed to so I could prove (even if just to myself) that I’m not just a one-trick pony. I didn’t want to be a one-book author. I wanted to write all the books physically possible. How would I ever write a book that would do as well as my first (or hopefully, better)? I could do it. I just needed to figure out how.
Thing number two – I realized that all those other times I’d started a manuscript I wasn’t writing for me, I was writing for readers. I was following all the so-called ‘rules’. You know the ones where you need to try your best not to ‘offend’ anyone who reads the book. I’ve heard all the complaints that authors get about breaking the rules because I broke them for my first book (what can I say, give me some rules and I’ll blow them off faster than I could read them) I offend people on a daily basis so why I was worried about this I’m not sure. I say what I mean, no beating around the bush from me. I’m nearly 40 years old and I’m past the point in life where I’m trying to impress people with who I am. I don’t have time for that shit. (FYI – don’t like cursing? I’m not your author…)
Once I gave these things up, I wrote. And wrote and wrote. I laughed (at my own jokes, I know… yeah, yeah), I cried (like a baby at times), and I’ve got a book hangover like you can’t imagine right now. And I’ve written a story that I’m in LOVE with that is in a voice I know is mine. NO filters, NO hoping no one is offended (someone will always be offended, that’s just life). THAT’s why I write. I write because a story within me needs to be told. I write cause I’ve got shit to say. (I hate talking in real life… lol) If readers don’t like it, that’s OK. You’re allowed to not like it because I can’t please everyone. I know that now. I love this next story and it’s the story that Henry and Ambri needed to tell. Much like Emi and Jack. These characters are my best friends and they truly end up as a part of an authors life. We check in on them and we dream about where they’re going next even if it never ends up on paper.
It takes time to find your voice and writing style. I think I finally have. And let me tell ya, that feels SO good.
If you’re an aspiring writer overwhelmed by all the rules, and can’t seem to find your story I’ve got advice.
Don’t ever give up. Even if all your writing is angry notes at yourself, it counts. Keep doing it.
Read. Read what you love and read what you don’t. The more you read the more you know (in everything in life).
Most importantly though, leave the rules behind and write. Besides grammar and spelling rules, you can do whatever you want.
Listen to the characters that are the loudest. THEY will tell your story.
Because, my new book centers around music… I’ll leave you with a song I’m obsessed with right now –