And coming from a romance author, that’s kinda…well, not a good thing, is it?
My story endings tend to be more Happy For Now rather than Happily Ever After. I’ve tried writing HEA’s but they don’t feel genuine to me. That, too, coming from a romance author isn’t a good thing, is it?
There’s a strict definition of romance and it’s centered around the idea of a Happily Ever After. I even have a couple signs in my office that say Happily Ever After. That’s the aspiration for me at time, I think. But as all writing does, mine shifts and changes and gets closer to HEA’s and gets farther away from them, too.
I don’t like endings. Not in books, not in movies, not in television shows, not in my favorite band’s careers, not in life. Ending scare me. Endings mean change. Endings mean finality. Endings, happy or sad, leave me with a sense of…loss.
My first memory of an ending came when I was a kid, kindergarten, and my father sitting on the side of the bed in my parent’s bedroom. He was upset and that’s my last memory of him as my father. After that, he became someone else’s father and someone else’s husband. I saw him a couple times after that, but it was never the same. I was never the same.
When I would leave my grandparent’s home at the end of every summer growing up, I would cry because what if it was the end? What if something happened and I never saw them again? I’d cry at the beginning of summer, too, when my mom would drop me off with my grandparents because what if it was the end? What if I never saw her again?
Friendships. Relationships. I either stay longer than is healthy because I can’t handle the thought of ending something. Maybe I should try harder. Maybe I haven’t done enough, given enough. But there’s another side of it, too. There’s the side that says I’m going to do the leaving. I’m going to do the hurting. I’m going to do the ending because it won’t destroy me as much if I’m the one who controls it. None of it is healthy or easy. It’s all fucking hard as shit. It’s all growth and acknowledgement. It’s all confrontation of myself and my fears that I’m not worth, that I’m not enough, that I’m not lovable, that even as a child I wasn’t lovable. It’s a thing internalized that it wasn’t a thing between my parents, but that it was a thing with me. After all, he married someone else and had a son with her and they stayed married, are still married.
This fear of endings followed me all through childhood and teen years and young adult and new adult and now I’m 49… And guess what? I still hate endings. I still cry with big change, little change. When one thing is ending. When transitions are happening. And there are things happening in my personal life right now that are ending and changing and transitioning and shifting forward and back and I’m an emotional mess over all of it. Even knowing these days would come, these changes, these transitions. Even knowing… I’m still just…
Expecting an ending isn’t the same as being prepared for it and how this translates to my writing is… Hell, if I know. I don’t write good endings. I write them well, either. I kind of just…end them. Like there’s something more coming after, like the middle or beginning of another scene. Like it’s not really over. And I know that’s because I suck at endings, I hate endings, I’m fucking scared of endings, whether someone else ends a thing or I end a thing. You can never go back once it’s done. You can never get it back once it’s over. At least that’s how it is in my head. It’s final. It’s unchangeable. And I do realize that my view of endings is skewed based on my earliest memory of one. I’ve always been fascinated with Happily Ever After. My favorite story was Cinderella and the Prince who search high and low for her. Of love being the triumph. The Hallmark Happily Ever After is one, too, that fascinates me. But the one that always gets me, that resonates with me, as far as a Hollywood everyone has seen it thing… My Best Friend’s Wedding. The friendship that always was is changing, forever. The friendship that was this way would never be that way again. The unresolved issues will always remain because he’s moving on, his life changed and she’s left with a broken heart and trying to piece a new part of herself together from the emptiness that is now there. Now, I’m the one who sees it that way, but most see it a different way, that’s just how my brain works.
We all process and handle rejection differently. We all handle the way things end or don’t end or change or morph or transition and it’s something that I work on, that I journal on. Sometimes distance helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it haunts me and I think for years of what I could have said or done or what I did say or did do… I am a second guesser and that follows me through pretty much everything I do (and I’ll discuss this in another blog).
I think in some ways, this is why we experience book hangovers. Sometimes it’s just the content is just that good, and sometimes it’s the fact that something just that good has come to an epic end. And for me personally, this is sometimes why I avoid reading the last or last few books in a series. I love it so much and I don’t want it to end so I leave it undone. I can go back to it any time at all because I haven’t experienced it yet.
How weird am I?
If you’ve got any thoughts or helpful hints or anything at all, leave a comment. (See, I don’t even know how to end a blog post.)
Please hold me!!!
Nah… I’ve got this. Maybe.
I’ve never won NaNoWriMo. I’ve never even come close. I usually give up and try to figure something else out and then get lost in baking and cooking for Thanksgiving and never look back, only come December to feel like a complete and utter failure because I couldn’t get a measly 50,000 words written in 30 days. I mean, look at all those who DO it! Look at all those who do it on a monthly or hell, do it every 2 weeks all year long! And me, I couldn’t even do it for one month, one freakin’ month.
That was the shit I’d tell myself every year. And sure, I told myself a few times that I wasn’t going to participate at all, but then I’d give in and fail before I got started good. Like… 2 days. Maybe 3. But 2 days of doing it, of cranking out words, of getting more than the minimum daily word count of 1667 and I’d be on such a roll and I’d be so gung-ho and I’d be… Done. I would doddle through the next week or so, but no real effort. I’d tell myself next year would be better. And news flash, next year would not be better.
So, why am I doing it at all? Because I love a challenge. Because my head is screwed on a little different this time around. Because I can’t help myself. I won Camp NaNoWriMo over the summer and damned if I’m not going to give NaNoWriMo a whopping good try.
I have been really excited this year for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been working on getting my house clean so I wouldn’t have to do it over the weekend, and I’ve done the grocery shopping and some meal prep and some organization stuff to keep me on track and I’ve been so damn excited that… Wait for it… I burnt myself out two days ago. I was exhausted. Literally exhausted. I couldn’t put two words together. I was in bed and asleep before 10pm and slept nearly 9 hours. That was a lot for me considering I usually only sleep 4-6 hours, if I’m lucky. But when I woke up yesterday, I felt re-energized and ready to go. I simply hadn’t paced my excitement.
And now, today is the day. Today is the day hundreds of thousands of writers around the world attempt to hash out 50,000 words in the next 30 days. This year should be interesting for the writers in US who celebrate Thanksgiving as the last 3 days of NaNoWriMo take place over Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Rivalry Saturday.
So, as author Chris Fox states at the end of most of his YouTube videos, I have to get back to the writing.
If you read this and are participating, I am wishing you the best of luck.
If you read this and are thinking about it, but unsure, try it. Despite my previous years of not finishing, you will learn a lot about yourself as a writer. Just visit the website and sign up https://nanowrimo.org/
If you read this and aren’t quite ready for the 50,000 word novel challenge, especially at the holidays, there’s always Camp NaNoWriMo which is held in both April and July with word count goals of anywhere from 10,000 to 1,000,000. I will be participating each of those months next year.
If you’re interested, I’ve created a Facebook group for moral support, kicking ass support, or whatever other support you may need to get through NaNoWriMo. There are also dozens of word sprint groups on Facebook, local NaNoWriMo groups, forums on the NaNoWriMo site itself, so… Join in somewhere. You won’t regret it.
Publishing continues to change and shift and the length and style of books continues to do the same. Writers are not held to one length or one contract anymore. We can publish what’s right for us right here and right now.
Readers have asked me over the years why don’t I write longer. I get reviews and emails saying, man I wish this or that story was longer. So, because I am in this reboot of Lissa Matthews so to speak, I thought I’d answer this question, because I don’t see me changing the length I write too drastically in the near future. It could happen, but until then, here are my …
Time … Writing novella was a conscious choice for me. I wanted to write shorter than full length. It doesn’t take 30 forevers to write a novella. My sweet spot is between 25,000 and 40,000 words. I have plenty that are under 22,000 words and a few that are over 41,000 words. I write where the story takes me. I write what the story in my head is meant to be. I write what is necessary for me to tell through the characters eyes. Not every story is meant to be 50,000, 75,000, or 120,000 words. It doesn’t take you that long to read, either. And everyone, readers and writers, our time is precious and ever more limited and distracted. But don’t take that to mean the story isn’t important, it is. Its very important. Each one is saying something, showing me and you something, pulling us in to a different life for a moment. You can read one of my novellas and escape for a few hours and then get back to your life and the things you need to get accomplished. Time is valuable. There aren’t enough hours in our days. Most of us, even if we had an extra 6 hours would still need more. I love novellas for this reason. I can read a book, get involved, get finished and get back to my day. It allows me a little fantasy in the midst of reality. I’ve been reading a lot of full length books the last few months that take me days or weeks to finish and I’m way behind on my reading goals for the year because of this.
It takes skill … Some do not think this is true, after all, it’s a novella, how hard can it be? Some of us know it is true. And some who don’t write novellas know it’s true, as well. Not every book written has to solve a huge outward problem. Not every book written has to solve any problem at all. It could just be about sex, which is definitely not a bad thing. Nope. But just as writing long, in depth, full length novels take skill, writing novellas takes skill too.
More titles … You get more stories. Presumably. If I do my job. You get more stories. More often. And this is not about quantity over quality. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that I’m able to finish something quicker and get it edited quicker and into your hands quicker. Several authors do this very successfully … Alexa Riley and Mina Carter. They write quick, hot books and get them out for their readers to devour.
Because I can … Yes. I said it. Because I can. I can write any length I want. As I said at the beginning of the post, with publishing the way it is, authors can write what they want, any length they want, and publish when they want. We no longer have to wait on a publisher to give us the go ahead or give us guidelines to follow, only accepting this length for this type of story. It’s in our hands now. It’s within our power. And, while it once scared me, I’ve righted that thought process and find it to be awesome now.
Price points … When my novellas were at publishers, they could charge whatever they wanted. Sometimes, they had to charge outrageous amounts in order to make money. They were slightly higher than average, but it worked for them for the most part. When things began to go downhill, they still charged outrageously and paid for it with lower sales. It was too late once they began lowering prices. I can charge for new and re-released titles whatever I want. Whatever I believe is reasonable. I have several things at $0.99 right now and some of those will go up and some will stay at that price. My novellas are worth more than $0.99. I write well. I write raw. I write real. I put real emotion into what I write. Some readers only want free books. I get that. Some only want $0.99 and some won’t pay that because they perceive it as a bad book if it’s priced that low. The market has been glutted to death with $0.99 books for several years now and honestly, while I will buy some at that price or free (usually new to me authors), I pay $2.99-4.99 for an ebook. I want to cry if it’s more than $4.99. But that’s a whole other argument (it doesn’t cost near as much to produce an ebook, no matter who you are). Especially when NY publishers charge $8.99 and up for fiction. But for these books, I often go to the bookstore and buy the print or hop over to an online shop and order the print. Which is part of the game … But like I said, that’s an argument for another time. I want to keep my price points affordable to those who read my book, but I also want to make money at my job, the same as readers like you make money at your jobs and unless a writer has rabid readers, for most, $0.99 isn’t the money maker. It’s the $0.99 money loser.
So, those are some of the reasons I write novellas over full length novels. It may change. But I’ll continue telling the story from the characters as they want and need me to tell them. They often have a specific point in their lives, a certain thing that changed for them that they want told. They may not want the whole drama spilled on the page and novellas work for them. And yes, I talk about my characters as though they’re living and breathing like you and me because in my head, they are.
I welcome questions and comments, but for now, I’m going to sign off …
In the #RWChat last night on Twitter (this morning for me), they talked about writing goals and the end of the year and what goals do writers have for the last 3 months of 2017, what obstacles are in the way, what changes can be made, and how are you feeling as a writer about your writing…
That chat prompted me to write this post.
I hate and love my lists of goals and my attempts at creating workable schedules. Hate because, yeah… Love because they make me feel productive when I actually stick to them. Which, again, yeah…
I mentioned in my newsletter a few weeks back that with the deep level of depression that I suffer from May through the end of July (I suffer all year long from depression, but it’s noticeably worse in Summer), my productivity suffers as well. I can’t write. I try and I can’t. I spent most of my Summer this year reading. I’ve read more in the last few months than I have in the last year. I watched movies and I read. I sat outside when it was possible (meaning when it wasn’t 300 degrees in the shade) and read. I read big books and a couple small books. I read physical books and Kindle ebooks. I read.
But I also thought, planned, and tried to get something in place in my head that when the fog began to lift, I would be able to tackle what needed to be tackled. I bought a Happy Planner and I keep track of what I’m doing every day in it. That has helped me a lot. And it allows me a little creativity to add to it and make it prettier than it already is. But, I’ll talk about that another day.
So, what does this all mean? Well… It means, I’m going to work off a school calendar. August through just a few days into May. Work meaning writing. I’m working off a goal list of 3 months at a time… August-October, November-January, February-April. I’ll wind down the writing around the second week of May and then give my mind and spirit the rest that depression demands of it.
I find that come August, I start feeling brighter, happier, more motivated, and more creative. It’s a different feeling than when I go into May which is a sensation of dread and darkness coming in from the edges. Those who suffer from depression will understand what I’m talking about.
We are in October now and so far, I’m still doing well. I’m working through my writing list and my goal list. I have a better idea and plan of what I want and need to accomplish with my time. There’s some refining I want to do to make life flow a little easier, but for the most part, two months in, I’m feeling good and staying positive, not so overwhelmed. I was afraid I might feel the overwhelm, but because I’ve set a stop date for writing after 9 months, it’s actually eased a lot of the anxiety and tension and stress.
I have realized that it is imperative with age and depression and learning/knowing myself better, that finding the right time of year to work is as important as finding the right time of day that is most productive. I’m still working on that second part, but I’ve put this all in motion to hopefully find that this is my right time of year, these particular 9 months.
I’ve been lost for about five years now. Maybe longer. Lost in life, in writing, in just who I am. And it didn’t seem to be getting better and frankly, I was losing more hope by the day. I no longer have the confidence, the support network that I once did in writing and publishing. Depression demons talk. A LOT. In whispers and in loud bullhorn voices. They feed other demons until there is no way to drown it all out.
My sincere desire is for this new schedule to work. For it to be the one thing that finally clicks for me and I’m able to get back to my productive self. The new Starbucks down the street can’t hurt, either, right?
If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment!
Have a great one.
So, my tally for Bout of Books 20 isn’t as high as I’d hoped it would be. I made it through 3 1/2 of the Magic and Mayhem books by Robyn Peterman. I had wanted to make it through all 5, but life happens. I don’t feel too terribly bad because I came into it so late, but when they have Bout of Books 21 in January, I will be totally prepared to put in all 7 days from beginning to end.
But I ‘met’ (on Twitter) some really cool people and found a lot of great books and blogs to follow.
The next read-at-thon I’m planing to participate in is the one I told y’all about on October 21st. It’s a 24 hour one and I think I have the series picked out that I’m going to dive into… Then again, between now and then, I may find several other series and I’ll end up putting all the titles in a hat and drawing one out.
I’ve finished writing Abe’s Will and have a few scenes to flesh out.
I’ll be starting on Witchin’ Spice, my title that will be in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World. It will be out in October.
There are many other books I’m making notes on and planning and several re-releases happening, too. I’ll keep y’all updated on those as they happen.
I’m also wanting to put together a read-a-thon of my own and a write-a-thon. I’m looking forward to finding people to help me with ideas. If you have any, let me know!
But for now, that’s all I have!