Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year. New Perspective.

I made a few promises (not resolutions) at the start of this year, and one of those promises was to be kinder to myself. I tend to set unreasonable expectations in every aspect of my life, job included. In fact, I’m probably the hardest on myself when it comes to my writing. Sometime last year, I realized that the one thing I love above everything in the world aside from my husband and dog became something I loathed. My ridiculous expectations distorted the reason I write, and it wasn’t long after that writing stopped altogether. I gave up. But a real writer doesn’t do that, does she? Isn’t it impossible for her not to open her computer and type something? Isn’t that the definition of a “true” writer?

Writers write to tell the stories in their hearts. It’s as simple as that. Or should be. But when you’re competing for space and relevancy in an ever-expanding self-publishing world, the motivations to write start changing. If you don’t meet the goals you set for a particular title, you start second guessing the story: Was this important? Did I choose the wrong point of view? Did I offend someone? (Note: you will ALWAYS offend someone with your writing. Nothing you can do about it.) You start second guessing your characters. You start second guessing your genre as you scour Amazon’s Top 100 list and discover that no one’s writing about high school shootings. You take a step back. You try to anticipate what your audience will like. You try to make your audience happy. You allow too many people to involve themselves with your work, giving you confusing feedback that turns into white noise. You say to yourself, “She doesn’t get me at all, but she’s my audience, so I need to change.” You don’t even take into consideration all the people who DO get you—who DO understand and appreciate and love your work. Distortion is scary. It’s what stands us in front of the mirror and forces the words “I’m fat” out of our mouths when we are clearly not fat. And so with each book, you move further and further away from . . . you. And then you wake up one morning to discover that you hate telling stories—that part of you that was your heartbeat. You hate it because you’re trying to please everyone instead of writing what's in your heart.

It took the better part of last year to recognize all this. One enlightening phone conversation with an industry professional helped refocus my lens and give me a clear perspective once more. It was a conversation that centered on a story I’d tucked away for over a year—a story I’d been too afraid to tell because it’s risky and controversial and ugly and all the things that, up until LoveLines, had defined my writing. Fringe writing. That’s what I’m calling it. Those stories that hang out in the margins—right on the edge of potential greatness and amazing catastrophe. The stories people are too scared to read because they don’t know if they’ll get their happily-ever-afters. The stories that reflect true reality, making them too realistic. The stories that sometimes offer no escape.

My stories aren’t pretty or safe or commercial, and they will most likely never be wide-reaching. And that’s okay because someone needs to tell Jeremy’s story. And once I committed to him, all my initial motivations for writing returned. None of them were new, but I felt like a brand new person. I remembered why I write. I write to tell what I hope are good stories. I write because it is a part of who I am. That’s the point of it all. That’s perspective. And with my old-new perspective came a joy for storytelling again—a reason to open my laptop. Sure, I realize I’m taking a huge risk, perhaps riskier than Brooke or Cadence’s stories. But hey, I gave myself a year. It’s time.


(Expected release: Spring 2015)


. . . and here's your first teaser:


16 comments:

  1. FUCK YES! I can't wait to get my hands on this babe! I am so sorry you had to take a step back but I am damn glad you got your shit together. Going Under still haunts me and that's the main reason why I will follow you to hell and back! You are a fabulous writer even when you write sweet shit like LoveLines. Do your thing Summer and never be afraid!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I got my shit together. It took longer than I wanted, but I'm finally ready to tell this story. Consequences be damned ;)

      Delete
  2. After reading Going Under I knew you were special. I love how you aren't afraid to go there. I also loved Good and Better and I have LoveLines that I plan on reading this year. I say do you, continue to write awesome stories that make people nervous. I'll take your depth over a sex laden drivel of a story any day. Can't wait for Spring :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shenita <3 I can't wait to share this story with you. It's taken over my life, and I think that's a good sign!

      Delete
  3. Yes! So glad to see you're back, focused and ready to make us uncomfortable and awed with your writing!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uncomfortable? Check. Awed? I'm hoping :)

      Delete
  4. There is beauty even in the ugliness in this world. Someone has to tell the truth, my friend. I'm glad you're not afraid to step up to the plate. Some of my favorite reads are the grittiest true crime reads, or fictional crime stories that read like the truth. There are always several sides to every story. Get the ink bleeding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle. And I completely agree. The more flawed the "hero" the better the story, in my opinion. I hope he totally screws with your head. And I hope you like it ;)

      Delete
  5. I was just thinking about Going Under recently and was going to do a re-read. That was an amazing book. You are awesome don't let the man get you down. Write for yourself we'll just follow and enjoy the ride with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The man" is completely obsolete at this point. And that feels pretty damn good. I'll keep writing for my rogue readers. xo

      Delete
  6. HELLO YEAH!!!!! I FLOVE your stories!!!! I've been a huge fan of your books and I fell in love with your writing style ever since Hoodie. Summer your stories are so unique in an ocean of cookie cutter stories it's so damn refreshing. As a book a day reader I'm ALWAYS looking for that AMAZING CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT it book and your books have always been that to me. I've reread them all many times.
    Sooo happy to see your back at it.

    Much love to you!
    Can't wait to read another fantastic book from you <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That means so much. You don't even know. I hope you find something special in INTERIM. I won't lie and say it'll be an easy read, but I truly hope it's satisfying. And I hope you won't be afraid to read it again.

      Delete
  7. I'm excited for more stories from you. But who is Jeremy?

    ReplyDelete
  8. S. Walden, you're a kick ass chick! Bring it on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, thank you, Katie! <3 . . . And I believe I will.

      Delete