Hi, hello, hi. Today’s blog is going to be a bit of a departure from my usual content. Mondays are usually reserved for the “how-to” blogs — sometimes, they’re even used for announcements. But, sometimes, there’s no stopping the train as it leaves the station. And the train has already started hurtling down the tracks. No worries if that’s not what you’re here for! You can always pop in next Monday, or check out the review on Wednesday!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to make it entirely about me and my squishy human feelings. There is a lesson, I feel, to be learned from this.
First, I should start from the beginning.
A friend of mine had mentioned in the spring of 2019 that she wanted to start writing romance and asked if I would join her on the journey. I waffled back and forth on it for a while. I grew up in a family that consumes romance novels voraciously. Novels with bare-chested men with long-flowing hair were a common staple on my aunt’s bookshelves. My family was nothing short of encouraging when I mentioned it to them. I already had a story in mind and it was easy to put the metaphorical pen to paper (in this case, fingers to the keyboard). Dark Paths was born.
I have always loved world-building. I have always loved developing characters, finding their voices. To me, there is no greater thrill than that.
But then Lily’s and Autumn’s story started to chew holes in the back of my brain. Don’t Say “I Do” couldn’t be a further departure from my usual content. At first, I tried to ignore it. But, like any good earworm, it refused to let me rest until I did something with it. So, I started writing it between chapters of my most recent Dark Paths project.
I felt something shift. I felt like the creative floodgates opened. I felt like I finally found my voice — like everything was coming so freely. And I realized then that I was pouring so much more of myself into this project than I have in others past.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of love, blood, sweat, and tears in Dark Paths. I love that series with everything that I have in me. It’s my first romance series, and nothing will ever take the place of that. But, Don’t Say “I Do” filled a hole I didn’t know that I had. It wasn’t just because I’m a queer lady who loves seeing a happily ever after for two women — though, I’m sure there are elements of that. It’s because I had hyper-focused so much on one story I was feeling a bit run-down. More than a bit run-down, honestly. I think I was at the precipice of burn-out.
In allowing myself to follow that passion project, I fell back in love with writing again. Everything came so much cleaner and easier from there. I was enjoying the process much more than I had been (especially editing, egads, the editing).
It’s not always ideal when inspiration hits you with the force of a Mack truck. Often, it happens at the most inconvenient times. For me, it was in the middle of working on another larger project.
But sometimes, you have to listen to that call. Sometimes, it’s the healing that’s needed to be able to come back, better than you were before.
I published Don’t Say “I Do”, as I’m sure a lot of you know, On February 12th, 2022. I hadn’t expected it to gain much traction. After all, I’m a no-name is lesbian fiction, I hadn’t advertised it too much. My partner and I watched as the ratings crawled higher and higher — before I knew it I was in the top 50 of lesbian romance, and top 25 of new releases.
What’s funny is that I hadn’t planned on doing anything with that book. I thought that it would be yet another file left to collect dust. But I shared it. I published it. And I connected with so, so many people. It was so unbelievably humbling and inspiring. I don’t want to sound cliché, but it fed my soul. I felt hope for the future I’m so desperate for — writing full time — and more than that, I felt a profound love for this beautiful, supportive community.
So, I guess, what I’m saying is —
Trust your gut. Allow yourself to feel passionate about something. Take that risk on yourself and allow yourself to let go. Writing Don’t Say “I Do” was probably the most emotionally honest I’ve allowed myself to be in a book. Even if it did turn out to be just another untouched, unopened file for years, it nourished my creativity in ways I can’t even begin to describe.
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