Where is the Love?

…or falling back in love with my stories all over again…

Some of you probably saw this postcard (one I wrote actually for myself at DFWCon & that they’ve just sent out to everyone) when I posted it on Twitter a few days ago, but I’ve been thinking about it more and more since then and so decided I probably had enough to say about it for a blog post.

Before I dive into the second goal, I want to be upfront with the fact that I didn’t manage to accomplish the first goal. I did not, in fact, complete a full length novel and get it ready for querying by the end of 2016. I did complete a novella all the way through the query phase, and have now decided to make monthly chapters part of my patron-only Patreon rewards, but that still doesn’t quite meet the novel goal. And that’s OK.

Because if I’m being honest with myself, the second goal, oh holy that second goal, was the one that I really needed to accomplish.

“I will fall back in love with my stories.”

Man I just have to take a moment to stare at that sentence again, and to let myself tear up a little (also again).

Fall back in love with my own stories.

It’s an idea that seems simple enough on the surface: enjoy what I’m writing and even just the fact that I am writing at all. Embrace the joy of words and ideas and stories which honestly is the reason I started writing in the first place. No one would put themselves through these hours of insanity if they didn’t enjoy it. If they didn’t love it.

But last year, for a lot of the year, I have to admit, I wasn’t loving it. I wasn’t anywhere close. I hated most of the words that I wrote. Just flat out hated them and doubted that they’d ever get me the writing career I’ve so long worked and hoped for with the agent to join me in my corner and publishers knocking at the door lining up to take my novel to auction. I was burnt out, and had built up my expectations following Pitch Wars to the point that not succeeding with that book felt like the ultimate failure, especially having already “failed” with my first book’s debacle with a vanishing publisher. I second guessed every story that came to my mind, near certain that it was just about time to give up – that the pain and agony of fighting through another book and another and another just for the chance that possibly someone out there in the publisher world would want to read it.

I’d forgotten what I was really doing here.

I started writing because I couldn’t do anything else. Because the worlds and words inside my head pound at my hands until I can’t help but let them drift out onto a page through my fingers. I wanted to just write. To create a story that I wanted to read again, even if no one else ever did.

I wanted to write. Just write.

The stories themselves used to be enough on their own, and that’s what lately I’d forgotten.

But towards the end of 2016, something incredible happened.

I stumbled on a revelation that seems so simple on the surface, one that accepting damn near made my cry in public.

I can, no I should, write what I want to write.

That’s it. Just that. Write what I want to write. Write the stories that I am going to love, even if no one else ever does. Strange little short stories have shown up after that revelation – ones I honestly can’t judge the quality of after I’ve written them. Odd little yarns that I doubt anyone is going to enjoy but that insist on being told at least back to me.

And would you believe it: one of those stories was accepted to my first paid anthology. That red-headed stepchild of a short grabbed hold of an editor and earned its way into a paycheck. Who knew?

A new novel sprang into being in my mind after that revelation, too. A story that if I admit it to myself has been hiding in the back of my head for years. It’s a love letter to Texas and ranches and witchy teens and bisexuality and diversity in so many forms. It’s family and cousins and aunts and evil chickens and tarot and food and all the things that have brought me comfort over the years. It’s a story I was terrified to tell, that I’d convinced myself wouldn’t be worth the backlash that both a witch story and a bisexual story were sure to cause.

But now? Now I’m remembering that I love all of the elements I’m writing into it.

I. Love. This. Story.

I love it. And shocker to me, just the few little snippets and concept I’ve shared on Twitter already has people excited. This novel that I was sure people would ignore at best or incite anger with at best already has folks who want to read it, who are thrilled by the idea of it.

That honestly baffles me a little, but y’all I’m going with it!

And hell, even if people don’t like how it turns out, I can say with all honestly that it’s going to be one of the best, if not the best, thing I’ve ever written.

Because I love it. I love the story that I’m telling.

And that’s a feeling I never want to forget.