(Warning: This is a LONG post)
In the movie Say Anything, valedictorian Diane Cord delivered a commencement speech that ended with the words Go Back. It went over the heads of most of her classmates and in all honesty, it’s a hard concept to Go Back. But sometimes I think we have to do just that in order to move forward.
Over the weekend I watched The Masters golf tournament as I do every year. Several things stood out to me in the hours of commentary before I was allowed to see any actual golf being played…
The most disliked golfer it seems is the one that has taken his own route for the most part and is seen as the most standoffish… Bubba Watson. His fellow golfers answered a survey question that went something like If one of your peers was stranded in a parking lot and needed help, who would you not help? Bubba Watson was the answer. When he was told about this his feelings were naturally hurt and his response was that he needed to work on himself as a man. Now, whether the question and the answers were tongue in cheek is beside the point. He took it to heart. Maybe they simply meant that they viewed him as capable and wouldn’t need their help. Maybe it was meant as something more… But that he took it seriously and said he needed to work on himself as a man and set out to do so over the weekend, says something.
The next thing was a comment about Rickie Fowler. He’s young. Good looking. Has all the social media down. Has the product endorsements. The commercials. Talented. Plays mostly consistent golf. But has only won a single tournament in the six years since he turned pro. The announcers speculated on his popularity in the locker room among his peers. Did they view him with less than complete respect because he didn’t have more titles to his name? He was well liked in the press and among fans, but was his lack of accomplishment on the course cause for some dislike and disrespect in the locker room? I wouldn’t doubt it. I see it in the publishing world, so why wouldn’t it extend to other professions too?
The last thing was that Phil Mickelson was playing exceptional golf. It was the best I’d seen him play in the last couple of years. He simply kept getting better with each round. One thing that was said, and that is the most on point with this post, is that he’s gone back to basics. Gone back to the very beginning and started over. That was a theme of commentary throughout the weekend that going back was sometimes exactly what was needed in order to go forward and achieve potential.
So, what does all this have to do with me and why am I writing about it other than I love golf?
It has to do with me because that’s what I have landed on regarding what I need to do. I’ve been floundering, aimless in my writing lately. I haven’t enjoyed it. I’m sorry, but I haven’t. And I apologize because I’ve made you all think that I have. To a point, yes, of course, I have enjoyed what I’ve been writing. I love my characters. Jason and Alli. They were fun. And I’m enjoying Peg and Derek. Peg is a riot, at least in her head. But I’m enjoying them only to a point. That’s not fair to me as a writer and it’s not fair to you as a reader.
I have some awesome readers too. About 100. I say that because when I release a new book, that’s about how many people buy it. 100. That in and of itself needs re-evaluating, but I am grateful that those 100 people like my books and buy my books.
It came to me last night, laying in bed, wide awake, staring at the darkness above. Everyone was asleep but me. Even the zoo of cats was asleep. I thought about getting up and working on The Tattooed Barista. My heart wasn’t in it. I thought about working on the billionaire, or the next race car book, or one of the many paranormals I have promised to write over the next few months. But all those thoughts filled me with dread. That’s not a good feeling at any time or on any day, but really not a good one when one has been suffering through an episode of depression (diagnosed clinical depression going on 25 years) for weeks.
Then I read this. I know exactly how she feels.
And this. This is a reminder I was ripe to hear.
And this. Because this is at times exactly how depression feels, how this business of publishing feels, how life feels.
So, instead of writing on what I am expected to write on, I opened up Evernote, because you know, we’re having an affair…and wrote a blog post about Safety. Then I wrote one about Hurt Feelings. But those weren’t enough. So I opened up another text post and threw up everything I was feeling. I purged the words, the feelings, the thoughts, the vitriol, the shit that had been weighing me down. I typed it all out on my phone between 2 and 5 am. It felt good. It felt really, really good. I was going back to my roots of writing. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than getting the words out. No rules. No expectations. Just letting it all out.
It’s not romance.
Writing continued for me in High School. Still, writing things teenage girls weren’t supposed to write or think about.
I wrote in College, something tame for English class that my professor told me should be a little freer and that I should consider a career in creative writing, in fiction, in romance because I had a voice that I should let others hear.
I stopped writing to marry and have kids but it was always there, festering beneath my skin. We were good Christian, church going people and I tried my hand at inspirational romance. That lasted all of a day. I kept wanting to cuss and write dirty sex.
I put the writing away again and it was several more years before I took it back out again. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I worked a day job and wrote well into the night, existing for years on 3 hours sleep at night. I got fatter because I drank soda and ate chocolate to give me the highs to stay awake so I could write or work. I have 2 novels, one contemporary, one historical, each about 75% complete just sitting in the closet.
I wanted to publish but didn’t know how to go about it back then. It all seemed daunting. There were rules to follow and I didn’t think I could follow them and still write what I enjoyed. So, I wrote what I wanted and published on free erotica and porn sites. My writing wasn’t always so tame. My writing was filled with edge, taboos, and dirty, dirty sex.
I got away from that. I didn’t see how to make a living with that. It made my spouse uncomfortable too. I learned a lot about myself writing and I still do, but it lead me to being more open minded than I ever imagined I could be given my upbringing and marital situation. He’s not open minded, but I am.
But the point is, I was free when I was writing back then. I didn’t have anything to conform to. I didn’t have any expectations of readers, friends, peers, publishers. I hadn’t written myself into a box or a corner because I was afraid of what others might think. Once I was published with publishers, I had to maintain a certain image, or so I was told. I couldn’t say or do or act any way that might reflect poorly. Then there were other writers and editors and cover artists…they wouldn’t want to work with me if I wrote certain things or certain ways or acted/reacted certain ways. There were reviewers who only liked this or that. Boxes and corners. Some were of my own making. Some were not. Some were willing concessions, some I made so I would still look favorable. And through it all, the writing suffered. My creativity suffered. My voice suffered.
The wall has been hit and I’m breaking, shattering. I am not finding love in what I’m writing and it fucking scares me. I want to please my readers, YOU, I want to please you and give you what you want, but what if it’s not the same as what I want all the time? Or right now? I don’t want to disappoint you, but I don’t want to put out crap either, trite crap that I wouldn’t want to read on my worst day.
I’m tired of breaking promises that make me look bad and unreliable.
Last night, raw emotional painful truthful writing happened. Last night, raw emotional dirty erotica happened. And that is dirty in a very good DIRTY way. Last night I went back. I went back to the beginning. I went back to where I started. I went back and it felt amazing, empowering. I just wrote without thinking what readers would think, without thinking what other authors or friends or publishers or anyone else would think. I kicked a hole in the expectations and rules box and I was so pumped and hyped I had a hard time even catching a few hours of desperately needed sleep.
Earlier this year I set up a writing and publishing schedule that I’m tearing up. You’ll get the books I’ve promised you and that I’ve promised others (those have deadlines), starting with The Tattooed Barista. I won’t say when you’ll get them because until I find the joy and love in them again, I can’t give my all. That’s not fair to either of us.
I wrote this post in January.
And this was my list of words for 2015…
They inspire me and they haven’t been referred to at all. They haven’t been ME yet.
I’m beating myself before I even start. I’m trying to keep up because let’s face it, keeping up is the name of the game and I’m not even out of the starting gate.
It’s time to be Brave and time to find the Pleasure and Bliss in writing again. It’s time to go back and find the Joy in being Open to the possibilities. It’s time to find my voice, my Signature. And it’s time to be Positive about where I’m going and stop stressing over the expectations and pressure I’m putting on myself. This is my life, my craft, my journey. You’re on it with me and I’m thrilled that you are.
Thank you for reading.