Writing is hard. Writers do it because we love it. This isn’t a job you can do without loving it, just because of the sacrifice and the sheer number of hours writers put in. (That is unless you use a ghostwriter from fiver but that’s an entirely different story) Every single book I’ve written has been hard in a different way. Some books I’ve written extremely fast. I wrote the first draft of Speak No Evil in 28 days. It was 95,000 words, whereas the rewritten copy is not 73,000 words. It then took me 5 or 6 years to rewrite and get to the end. It also went from first person single POV to third dual. If you ever want to torture yourself, change a book from first to third. It’s a headache and I might be insane for doing it. I spent months this fall doing intense surgery on the book to make it what it is. All while going through a really rough time in my life.
Clouded Hell was hard because it’s a dark book. I had to be in the right headspace the entire time I was writing the book. It took me 5 months to write, that doesn’t include rewriting. That was the first draft. The editing was easy for that book, because I self-edited all alone, and built the book out of pieces I’d written out of order. Staying in the headspace the book required was painful, but I needed it. I had gone through a rough breakup and poured myself into that book.
Legally Bound I speed wrote in a few weeks. It was light and funny and came to me. It was nowhere near perfect, and working with an editor for the first time taught me lessons I will never forget. It’s okay to say no to an editor and publisher. The process of working with a publisher, even though I love my publisher dearly, almost made me stop publishing. My editor and I didn’t mesh at all but didn’t know any better as my publisher was using someone they’d just hired. She gave me a lot of bad advice I didn’t know I should say no to. I figured my publisher wouldn’t publish the book if I told her no. She loved purpose prose phrases and recommended I replace mouth with words like ‘moist cavern’. I still shudder thinking about it and am glad I refused those changes, but the book did suffer because of other ones she suggested. She didn’t like the overuse of names in m/m books and suggested I replace a lot of them with ‘the lawyer’ or ‘the man’ or even ‘his partner’ instead of their names. And let’s just say the first draft of my cover for Legally Bound sent me into an ‘it would be better to never publish a book than have my name on that cover’ freak out. I worked with the cover artist, picking my own pictures, and ended up loving the cover of Legally Bound, and I am so lucky my publisher didn’t just override my opinion as a lot do. The emotional toll of that book and the publishing process gave me shingles for the first time and I ended up getting shingles two more times that year. At 27 years old.
Of course, this led to learning I had an autoimmune disease and that stress does not work well with my body. I don’t regret any of it. It all taught me valuable lessons and has made me a better writer. It wasn’t easy, but it was good for me. I learned, I grew and I don’t do regrets. Every single thing we do teaches us lessons and I choose to see how these lessons have made me a better writer. I’m sure they’ve lost me readers, and I have some bad reviews of my early books, but I am a better writer because of my mistakes. I am human, and humans make mistakes. All I can do is keep learning, and work on creating better stories for my loyal fans and readers. I’ve had all sorts of ups and downs with writing and my process and I wouldn’t change any of it. (Okay I’m lying. I would make myself a NYT bestseller if I could, but most everything else I would keep the same.)