Once, I thought the more books I wrote, the easier this writing gig would get. Bwhahaha!! Nope, not for me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last year as I really struggled to write my last two books (CAGED MAGIC and EXPOSING THE HEIRESS), and that has me something seasoned authors told me long before I was published:
Enjoy the process now because once I published, all the pressure, deadlines and drama would suck out the joy.
Hmm, after writing twenty-some books, am I losing my joy in the process?
Sure, I look back on my early days of “writing the free and untamed book of my heart” with nostalgia. I miss just going for it without that pesky voice of experience in my head censoring each word, questioning every character motivation, scoffing at an unrealistic plot line or nagging me about passive writing. Trust me folks, those voices crowd into my head, bottlenecking my writing process and frustrating the bejeepers out of me. On top of that there are always deadlines ramping up the pressure to produce, which of course, sends my brain into the blue screen of death.
Oh yeah, it seems like the early, pre-published days were glorious – until I wipe away the nostalgia of writing with more hope and joy than any real skill, and I realize the truth.
I was clueless as shit.
No seriously. I didn’t know what sold. I didn’t understand the appeal of a trope (a tried and true plot line like redemption or falling for best friend’s little sister). I didn’t know how to emotionally hook a reader into my character’s goals to create page-turning tension, or how to use hooks and action to ramp up pacing and keep the reader from putting the book down.
I’m still learning every single day. I love that part of the job, I’m always pushing myself to write a better, more powerful and cleaner story.
But I hate the fear that has come with the knowledge. The more I learn, the better I get, the more critical and frustrated I become with my own writing. I realized this even more as I just did a revision on CAGED MAGIC, plus copy edits and proofreading on EXPOSING THE HEIRESS. I’m never satisfied and I suspect I never will be.
That’s called growing as a writer. Sure, in my beginning days as a writer, the newbie passion burned brighter and sitting down to the computer was more of a joyful experience. But that’s a memory that’s been cleaned and sanitized by time, often conveniently forgetting all the numerous people who didn’t take my career goals seriously and a few who made fun of me. And later, too many dream-crushing rejections to even count. Nostalgia has a way of softening the old pain and letting us recall the good times over the bad.
These days, getting paid to do a job I love is priceless. A deep and satisfying joy because I had to work my butt off for it with long hours, painful mistakes and pure determination to do it over and over until I got it right. Or at least close to right as I could, because as I said before, I’m never completely satisfied.
In my early days, I had a dream and every time I put my fingers to the keyboard, I was pursuing that dream with joy. That’s a good thing.
But now? I’m living the dream. It’s harder, takes more blood sweat and tears, but the joyful dream has matured into a sense of accomplishment, and a drive to keep doing it. And the pay off? Every time a reader falls in love with one of my books or characters, I experience profound sense of happiness that is significantly more satisfying that the simple joy I felt in those early days.
My joy still lives and burns, it’s just tempered by time, experience and the drive to do my best not to let down my readers who got me here.