Has six months gone by? I’m not sure, but I have another epic post to deliver. (which normally comes every six months or so…) If you’re going to read the below, my advice is to go get a nice drink, grab your glasses, and put aside a few minutes because, I warn you…it will be another long one.
Once again, ignore typos, I don’t censor myself when I do a post like this so what you’re getting below is raw, open honesty that is meant to show all facets of writing: from the made-up confident author at signing events, to the neurotic writer hiding in her house. There is no such thing as a perfectly confident person, we all have those moments where no matter how awesome things are going or how content we are in what we’re doing, that the inevitable ‘I can’t cope and don’t want to get up in the morning’ happens.
And that’s okay.
It just means you have to be kind to yourself and have a quiet day, or slap yourself and get over it…either way…we’re not super-humans and all have different highs and lows that we can’t control—no matter how much we like to think we can.
Right, now onto my point…
Last week, I released my 10th book. This is where I say, it’s my favourite book ever, or the best book in the series, and talk up my creation. After all, it’s MY creation. Something I’ve slaved over for hours a day, gave up my time to the characters, and invested myself in a world that no one else can see.
However, I’m not going to do that.
I’m going to be HONEST. I can’t talk for all authors but I can talk for me…and when I’m talking about my work, or signing books for readers at events, or even replying to wonderful messages, I always feel a little uncomfortable.
Because I KNOW they aren’t perfect. I know you’re supposed to love your work as if it was your own child, because there truly is a part of me that goes into every creation—just like childbirth (only nowhere near as messy or painful) (then again, the cursing and sometimes frustrated tears can get a bit ugly.) Instead, I actually grow to dislike my books. By the end of writing, re-reading, beta-implementing, critique-fixing, and editing, I see so many faults and flaws that I feel like an imposter when someone says they loved it, or grants me a glowing review. It’s only through THAT (the OMG I loved it) feedback that I can take a step back and try and see it through their eyes and think…yes, it’s not THAT bad, it’s readable, so now I shall relax a little and claim ownership of this mess of a tale.
Does that surprise you?
To hear that as an author, I cringe when I release, wondering if others will see the faults that I do? Should I lie and say I love every book I’ve ever written, every chapter, every character? Should I admit that after numerous trusted critiques and edits, I never feel the book is good enough? Should I keep secret that even after ten books, I feel as if I’m playing dress-up and still don’t know what I’m doing, nor deserve the incredible support that I’ve been given?
Maybe I should.
Maybe that’s what people expect. Maybe the only acceptable response is ‘Yes, I deserve this and I know what I’m doing.’ Just like seeing my books on the shelf for the first time in Barnes & Noble and Target should’ve been an awe-inspiring moment rather than a ‘holy crap, why ME? Why am I on that shelf and not so many other incredible authors? What makes my fumbling around worthy enough that people forget that I’m an imposter, just rocking in her corner after every release? Perhaps it’s because if the author doesn’t 100% LOVE ADORE and OBSESS over her own work, then how can others be expected to love it? Good question, and one that I don’t have an answer to.
All I can say is, YES I wish I believed in myself a little more, but at the end of the day, I’m GLAD I worry over every release and generally have a reservation on all my work.
Because it keeps me HUMBLE. My ego isn’t on a pedestal; I don’t believe I’m the greatest thing since salami, and I certainly don’t believe that my work is some award winning, bestest written stories ever invented.
In fact, I think the opposite. I’m a mess when it comes to publishing, second guessing myself, over analysing things, and getting upset with how I SHOULD have done it…even though I’d worked my ass off on every plot. I still don’t feel like I deserve the amazing readers, support, and incredible life I’ve been given…all because I’m still learning, still growing. I doubt I’ll ever feel completely worthy, and you know what? I’m GLAD. Because I think once you take this for granted, once you cock your chin and say with oozing confidence that ‘yes, my book made the New York Times because it deserved to be there’ then you’re no longer learning or growing. You’re COMPLETE and there is so much more I want to evolve into.
Whenever my books are lucky enough to hit lists and accolades, I want to shout from the hills that I’m so blown away and awed and okay, slightly proud–but the voice inside me is going….’but it’s not perfect, it’s not perfect, it’s not PERFECT.’ I can’t tell you the strange mixture of pride and embarrassment I get every time a book does well. It’s like this odd cocktail of happiness and disbelief and cringy fear that it was all a mistake.
Why am I telling you this?
It’s to explain how I feel when I see a discussion over my work, or a bad review, or a snide comment.
Does it hurt?
Of course, it does. I’ve put in a lot of time and commitment into this. It’s like someone coming into your house and going…’you missed a bit when you dusted. The house is FILTHY’ Even though you spent all morning cleaning, have blisters on your fingers, and really there is only a speck that you missed. It makes you see every figment filth EVERYWHERE and you go off into a tailspin cleaning things that don’t need to be re-cleaned. (exact thing with writing…if I could, I’d unpublish all my work, ‘re-clean’ and fix the specks before ever being confident enough to re-release.)
Everyone has their insecurities and mine is trying to please everyone. And no matter HOW MANY TIMES I remind myself that that just isn’t practical…it’s still a compulsion when trying to create a story for everyone. However, I also VALUE their opinions because nine times out of ten, I’m thinking the EXACT same thing. I’m rolling my eyes at certain things, and hating particular elements. And I’m not afraid to say that some of my books are better than others. That some I’m proud of and others…I’m not. And that’s okay, too.
I don’t know how better to explain it but I’m my own worst critic. No matter what thoughts you’ve had over my work, chances are I’ve already thought it, hated on my work, tried to fix it, and then got brow-beaten by my characters to leave it alone. I want everyone to know that your opinions are respected and encouraged. I have nothing against honesty because at the end of the day….NOTHING is set in stone because we all view things differently. It’s the deliverance and maturity that makes a difference—after all, there is nothing better than making your brain work than a good ole debate.
Right, back to my point….when I see a thread henpecking my work or tearing apart a fact, or plot, or character’s decision, two things happen. One, I immediately shut down. It’s not something I can help. I’ve always been that way. Call it a safety mechanism but if something emotionally hurts me, this gate slams up and I block it all out. It’s handy that little switch but it’s also is hard to flip back to happy again—even if I know it’s meant without malice, it does take me an hour or two to stop glaring at my ‘dirty house’ and just nod and accept rather than desperately try to fix the issues they’ve raised. The second thing that happens is, I AGREE WITH THEM.
Are you shocked?
You shouldn’t be after what I just explained above. Every fact, every plot, every character, dialogue, description, location, travesty, sex scene, make up scene, and growth that the books unravel is NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.
I agree that there are plot holes.
I agree that there are areas that are entirely fictional.
I agree that some parts could be trimmed and others could be elaborated and others could be cut entirely.
I agree that I have a typo here and there and I agree that it’s NOT PERFECT.
Because nothing and no-one EVER IS.
And that’s the best thing about books. Every reader has their own imagination and every author has their own creativity. The joy about writing is we can twist anything we want to create a fictional world. Fact checking and historical accuracy isn’t something I put first. I put the STORY first. I put EMOTION first. I’ll research and ensure I find enough plausible evidence to support my idea, but at the end of the day, I go where the characters tell me to go. If something doesn’t seem realistic in YOUR world, then that’s fine because it does in mine. That’s not to say that I DON’T AGREE that it isn’t realistic. I’m not claiming to be a historian or a doctor or a legal counsel, I’m a writer who has the freedom to take something and twist it into something else. If I make you FEEL and ENTERTAIN you for a few short hours, then that’s all I care about.
However, every book I release, the facts and basic world building are the things I worry most about, mainly because I know some won’t enjoy if it doesn’t fit into what they conceive as gospel or true. Which I GET and UNDERSTAND and like I said…AGREE with. HOWEVER, (and yes, there is always a caveat) what movie, book, comic, tale, or fable is ever entirely CORRECT? Even in contemporary romance (stories that are supposed to be based entirely on real life ask you to suspend believe.) How? Easy….
Have you ever read a book where the heroine has sex a few days after giving birth to the most darling baby ever and been OVER THE MOON? Yes. The reality: Post Natal Depression is a very common thing, let’s face it…babies are hard work, and the chances of her wanting to jump her husband a day or so after pushing out a child…not likely. The recommended ‘medical’ time frame is 6-8 weeks before she’ll feel REMOTELY like having sex.
Have you ever read a book where the hero is SO messed up from an abusive parent or trauma that he goes on a killing rampage and does horrible things, only to be redeemed because he can be ‘changed’? Yes. The reality: He’d end up in prison, or running from the law and NO woman would ever go…aw, he just needs love to know he doesn’t have to be angry with the world.
Have you ever read a book where someone went to the movies to see a show and it stated it was a new release, but you happen to know that movie didn’t come out for another two years? Yes. Did it matter in the overall story? Maybe…depends how much it bothered you, I guess.
The point is…every one of those is a TINY error, but an error nevertheless. To some it can be overlooked and others it will drive them mad. And that’s OKAY. We’re all different and I RESPECT everyone’s opinion. In fact, like I said…I agree with them. So much so, I’ll even pull apart my own books:
Would Tess have had the inner strength to overcome what happened to her in Tears of Tess and Quintessentially Q without any serious emotional scars? Probably not. I know I could never do that. Some people could…but the reality would be we’d all be f**ked…even with Q helping out.
Could Roan Fox ever really have had a relationship when he’d been so conditioned by a past of hatred and maiming? Definitely not. Don’t be silly.
Could the memory loss work really happen in Ruin & Rule as I wrote it….probably not. But then again…who knows with the human brain? Miracles happen and can’t be explained. Wondrous things occur all the time with no rhyme or reason…so yes…anything (fictional or real is possible) And another thing to mention….Ruin & Rule was released by a publisher, NOT self-published. Grand Central have highly trained editors, fact checkers, and professional helpers when creating the book for sale. I went into the contract with the publisher expecting to be ripped into pieces in my edits. I honestly was terrified to open the email when the edits came back…but know what happened?
The edits were kind and supportive (with a few tweaks, of course) but the overall story was left alone. Even though the girl was young in the flashbacks. Even though the love story had a lot of challenges that wouldn’t happen in any real world…they TRUSTED me (a huge publisher with many titles and authors in their stable) trusted me to tell MY story because at the end of the day…that’s all it was…a story. A love story. That’s all.
My last example is: Could the Indebted Series ever exist if I didn’t take a little bit of this world, a little bit of that world, and a whole lot of inspiration from characters?
Fair and simple.
The entire concept is based on suspending belief and just enjoying the ride. No one would ever be indebted. No one would ever get away with that. However, the story isn’t about debts or family feuds, it’s about MONEY and POWER and GREED and the fact that YES, all of that DOES HAPPEN. It’s happening as we speak all around us. The government blinds us, the companies we trust lie to us, and ultimately those 1% who own the world’s wealth have carte le blanche to do as they like, whenever, wherever, and to whoever they want…no questions asked. Because money buys silence, loyalty, fear….it RULES the world. No other explanation. And that’s what the Indebted Series is about.
Right, I’m getting to the end of my epic post so you can get ready to swig your drink and go back to whatever you were doing before I stole you away.
It’s no secret that I’m a lover of chemistry and true connection between characters, soul-mates, and best friends. In fact, I blatantly admitted it in Ruin & Rule. The main character LOVES The Princess Bride. She quotes it often, and that comes entirely from me. If you ask me what my favourite movie is: It’s the Princess Bride.
BECAUSE NOTHING ABOUT THAT MOVIE IS LOGICAL, PRACTICAL, REALISTIC, OR PROBABLE BUT MAN IT’S THE BEST ROMANCE EVER.
He dies for her, he becomes a pirate for her, he never stops loving her even when she doesn’t trust in true love. THAT is what reading is for me. The escape from reality and the POWER of true love. And that’s what inspires me with EVERY book. No matter if it’s contemporary, fantasy, or plain made up.
I never said I was an author.
In fact, to this day if someone asks me what I do, I STILL say I’m self-employed rather than I’m a writer or a storyteller. I don’t know why, maybe because I still don’t feel qualified to claim that I know what I’m doing. I’m still learning, still growing, and if people ask which of my books is my favourite, I have no answer because the honest answer is I STILL HAVEN’T WRITTEN IT YET (I think I stole that from Stephen King) But it’s true, so I’m using it.
So, to those I let down by not hiring a historian, or lawyer, or other fact checker, I apologise.
To those who think I should get feedback on certain things before releasing, I apologise.
And to those who believe every book should be perfect, I apologise.
Because everything I put out will never be perfect. The characters will take me wherever they want to take me and I’ll let them because it’s the LOVE and EPICNESS that I’m chasing, not the facts. I also don’t have the luxury of taking a year to write each book, making sure every part that I mention is spent with hours of research. In today’s world people expect everything NOW and I’m no exception. I want to write my next book NOW. I want to write what Nila says to Jethro or the new characters in my head are arguing about in my new series NOW. If that means that my work isn’t flawless (not that that is ever possible with so many individuals and opinions reading it) then I’m okay with that.
As long as my legacy reads: SHE MADE ME FEEL WITH HER BOOKS then I’m happy. And will happily bow to those who point out the errors and will learn and grow from them. To those who didn’t enjoy my work for one thing or another ‘thank you’ for being respectful and discussing your dislikes where I can’t see them. Thank you for being diplomatic and keeping emotion out of it when focusing on a plot hole rather than a personal issue. And thank you for being courageous enough to speak your mind so that I can evolve as an author and also learn FROM YOU. Because there is no better way to teach each other than with kindness and discussion and interaction rather than a stuffy old library book. I don’t often do this, but if you DID have an issue with any part of my work, then a respectful email outlining the issue is more than welcome and I will see what I can do to either fix, amend, or tweak so it’s more fitting with the reality you prefer. (No promises I will though, because at the end of the day…this is MY story and I hope you’ve enjoyed it enough so far to continue the journey with me.)
For those who trust me to take you away from our slightly broken world and twist the facts a little THANK YOU. Thank you to those who debate on my behalf, and truly so sweet to support me—I love both sides of this delicate balance I live in. Love or hate my work, I’m getting a reaction which is more than I can ask for. I can’t tell you how much your messages and support mean. I know I say it often but without you saying you enjoy my work…I truly wouldn’t have any fondness for my own books because all I would see is flaws. It’s only through your enjoyment that I can see their merits.
I hope I got my point across, even with my rambling, and hope I showed that I’m human. I see what you see. I worry over what you worry. And I also have the same issues even when I stamp my name on the book and press publish. The true point I’m making is….I’m grateful for every feedback and hope that even if you didn’t like this series or this book or this character, that you enjoy my writing enough to try another one.
And now for a shameless plug….Forbidden Flaws which will come out in a few short weeks will be based entirely in real life with no need for historians. However, if there are entertainment lawyers or any actresses around, feel free to email me and I’ll ask you to beta read so I can get my Hollywood facts straight. Same goes for my upcoming release in 2016 which I’m HIGHLY excited about and can’t WAIT to release the covers and blurb.
Thank you for reading, even if it was convoluted and I hope the honesty worked both ways. I can see your frustration with not having a book living up to your ideals and I’m eternally grateful for those who appreciate what I’m trying to do. I’m just a simple girl, tapping away on her keyboard and playing God with her make-believe worlds. I truly have the best job around, however when it’s time to come out of my imagination and invite people inside…it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But then again…you never get anything rewarding without a little pain. After all, pain comes with pleasure and pleasure comes with pain. Being a writer ensures I get equal doses daily.
Have a great night, everyone, and like I said, my email is always open. No matter how busy I get, I will always have time to respond to passionate, caring people…no matter if it’s to agree or disagree. That’s why I love what I do…because we are all DIFFERENT and that’s 100% perfect. Maybe it’s the only perfect thing in the world…all our imperfections joining into one perfection.
Never change! And have a good day. Bye!!!