For the first time more than five years I truly feel like a writer.
That statement might sound weird coming from me, but it’s true. When I first started writing, it was because I was searching for a career other than being a bartender/waitress. I was in my early thirties, and I knew I didn’t want to be depending on other peoples generosity (tips) to pay my bills when I was in my forties or fifties and onward. I also didn’t want to go back to school for something.
I’ve always been a bit of a gypsy wanderer with a short attention span and a try anything once outlook on life. My attitude lead to an interesting and well-rounded life, but not so much to stability. It also meant I never really had a driving urge to do or be any one thing. I’ve been a photographer, a traveller, an english teacher, a Karate teacher, an abuse counselor, a bodyguard and a graphic designer. In between – sometimes during – all those brief careers I was a waitress and bartender. I always went back to that for some reason.
Envy isn’t a pretty thing, but I’ve had it. Especially for anyone who could say “I’ve always wanted to be XXX” a doctor, a lawyer, a mechanic, and mother. It didn’t matter what they wanted to be, just that they’d had the desire to be one thing. A direction for their life. My direction had always been to simply be happy living life. It worked for a long time, but then I noticed a bit of restless that just wouldn’t leave me alone. A yearning for something, but I didn’t know what. I was still doing anything and everything that made me happy, but I wasn’t happy.
The decision to become a writer was made because it was another thing I could do that I didn’t have to go back to school for. I’ve always loved reading, and there were times I’d read a book and think, “I wish this or that had happened.” So I thought, why not?
I went after that career with the same determination Ive done pretty much everything in my life. Low and behold I was good at it! Less than three years after I’d decided to give it a try I’d sold my first novel to a NY publisher, on proposal. I’d never written a full novel before, but that didn’t scare me. I was raised to believe I could do anything if I set my mind to it, so I did it.
My writing story isn’t typical. I didn’t really know this at the time, but things had gone very easy for me. I sold the first story I ever wrote, and everything else after that pretty easily. I’d only ever received three rejection letters, and they hadn’t hit me hard at all. My first novel (Bound) made me a National Bestselling Author, and before it even hit shelves I had contracts for four novellas and two more novels from various publishers. I quit my night job, and focussed on writing.
Writer friends always found it weird when I told them the actual writing was the worst part of this job for me. I didn’t really enjoy forcing myself to sit still for hours at a time and stare at a computer screen. I loved being an author. I loved the promotions, the conferences, the people. Best of all I loved holding a book and knowing that the words on the page came from my mind, my imagination.
But the writing itself? The writing was fucking hard work. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.
The thing is, despite having an agent, a couple of great publishers, and many friends who were also kicking ass in the publishing world, I started to flounder. I lost my drive, and the urge to do something else kept sweeping over me. Friends and family all thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to move on from writing, which made it even harder to do.
In the end, it wasn’t really a choice. I did choose to back away from my traditional publishers. I did choose to part ways with my agent. However, I did these things because I figured it was good time to try writing something different. I had a plan. I was going to take a year off, and write my “Nevada” story. A story that had been niggling at the back of my mind for a while. Only in that year, I didn’t write.
For whatever reason, I lost my way. Another year went by, and I was still sort of lost. I’d gone back to bartendeing, and was trying to write again, but I just couldn’t seem to focus. My health got worse, both physical and mental. Without going too deeply into everything, I’ll just say depression is a black hole that once you fall into, is very hard to get out of.
For the last three years I’ve been constantly trying to get back to my writing. Anti-depressants have helped. I started to feel like myself again, but it was still very hard to regain my focus on, well, on anything. I’ve been planning the Overwatch stories for almost 2 years, but I just couldn’t seem to write. About three months ago Emily Ryan-Davis and I started talking about doing a box set, since they were all the rage, and neither us had been invited to take part in any, we figured we’d put one together ourself.
Emily talked to Portia Da Costa, who I’ve known and loved for years, and the Mastered Box Set was born. We invited some of our favorite authors to join us and were thrilled when they said yes. This set came together with a line up of authors that are out of this world in the erotic romance genre.
Knowing that a deadline always motivated me nicely, I decided this was the perfect time to give myself a kick in the ass, and get the Overwatch series going. Now, here I sit, on Sunday afternoon, with Unfettered, the first Overwatch story, due to the editor tomorrow so it can be cleaned up in time to make it into the Box Set…and I’m only 5,000 words into what will be a 20,000 word story.
Am I writing the story? Uhmm, nope, I’m writing a blog post thats over 1k because I had a moment this morning where I realized I truly felt like a writer. Sitting in front of the computer and spilling words from my fingertips no longer feels like the worst part of the job. It’s still fucking hard work, but it feels like heaven because I’m actually doing it again. I’m not editing, or re-writing, or republishing….I’m writing. New words, new characters, new stories, and it feels great.
When I look back now, I think everything I’ve done has been in preparation for this. The world travel, the variety of jobs, the passion for being open to whatever opportunity arises has served me well. Even the past few years of struggle and feeling lost has served me well. It’s all helped me find my way to what I truly am. A writer.
PS: I will get those other 15k done in time, because the words are flowing from my fingertips again.