Before I decided to start taking my writing seriously I read a million and one books on writing. They talked about tropes, character types, how to build a fantasy world or how to create a fantastic fight scene, but not how to write a good book.
I spent years searching for someone or something to tell me what to write. Sure I had the ideas, the characters and the basic plot lines, but I was always so worried that people wouldn’t like my stories that I never finished anything.
My first draft of MISSING YOU, MISSING ME was finished in 2016. I was so excited I started looking for beta readers and I handed out a few copies and there was silence. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit my grammar is terrible and I can’t edit my own work to save my life, but not hearing anything is worse than hearing they didn’t like it. That led me to putting the book aside and stop heavily writing for almost a year.
But then, one day I heard something that resonated with me. Write the book that you want to read. That first draft should be for you. So, I went back, picked MYMM back up and rewrote the book that I wanted. I didn’t lower the heat level to make sure my grandma could read it, or add more spice to get that “fifty shades market” as I like to call it. I wrote the book how I felt was right. And for the most part, that is the book that was published.
I am still beyond proud of myself not only for publishing it, but for sticking to my guns and keeping the book how it was. However, while working to publish my second book I realized something: I can’t 100% think like that anymore.
I know I am a super small fry in the vast ocean of the romance world. I just reached the 100 books sold this week, in fact. (Yay me!) But of those that have read it have contacted me, telling me how much they loved the book and they can not wait for the second book in the series. That is a thrill like no other. Seriously. Everyone who has loved my book, forced me to get off my butt, and write book three. Without you all I would be writing at a much slower pace.
But these readers have expectations. To label a book a romance it HAS to have a happily ever after, or HEA. No if, ands, or butts. If you don’t have it, its not romance. That doesn’t make the book bad, but it can disappoint the reader and being a reader myself, I understand the frustrations and there’s a chance I might not buy the next book. That author ruined it for me. I was waiting for that satisfying resolution and if I don’t get that, why would I want to spend the money again?
So now, I can’t write books only for myself. I have an obligation to my readers to give them a great book that will want them to continue reading my next book. I can’t be a successful, full time author if I have no one reading the books. I’m torn. They say “Kill your darlings,” but seeing what I see now, I know that killing my darlings would be the easy way out.
It’s kind of funny. I spent years waiting for people to tell me what to write, and now that I’m getting responses and agree with them, it’s harder than I thought it’d be. I don’t mind reworking what I know needs it, but I think I will continue writing under my rule, but with some slight alterations: Dream first, then Work.