What makes an epic love story? One for the ages? One that, at its end (regardless of that end), would be looked back on with fondness?
What makes a love story swoon-worthy?
Like the rest of you, I’m sure, it’s a question I’ve tried to solve for both professional and personal reasons. As we go through life, many of us are looking for that one special person who makes our hearts sing. Who makes each day exciting and full of opportunity. Who makes life suck a little less during the bad times and elevates the happy times when they come.
Someone we want to share life with each day.
Love stories–the best ones–are about people who share their life and navigate it together. A partnership. A team. Them against the world. When the storm comes, they sail the seas together, and, even if they come out the other side battered, they’re stronger and closer. Because they’ve shared their human experience.
And genuine affection and respect for each other.
Love stories are rarely perfect because life is not perfect. Humans, even if they love each other, are not always perfect for each other every moment of every day.
The greatest love stories are not peaceful instrumental songs played softly on a piano. They’re orchestral and dramatic, with crashes and bangs as the climax is reached, played out softly by a violin as the debris settles and love comes out triumphant.
Love stories are not without drama but are about navigating the drama. As a team. With the aforementioned mutual respect and love.
When people enter a relationship, life doesn’t stop being difficult. Problems with things such as employment, finances, health, friends, and family don’t suddenly disappear. Egos and needs and desires don’t evaporate. They double.
So, love stories are not without strife.
That doesn’t change that they can still be looked back on as epic at their end.
On January 14th, 2020, I released a little novel titled BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE. It clearly illustrates that love stories are not without drama.
On July 8th, 2022, the sequel, THE WARMTH OF OUR CLOSEST STAR will drop. It will illustrate that through all the things life throws at our protagonists – Enzo and Peter – love can find a way.
Because sometimes all we have is hope and possibility. If those can be held onto, in the end, nothing else ends up mattering.
Enzo’s and Peter’s love story is epic. Not perfect. But, in the end, hope and possibility will always be there.
Join Enzo and Peter on the final leg of their love story.
In case you weren’t aware (you’re probably new here), I started my writing career in erotica. I wrote short stories (20k words or less) for an erotica site. Ultimately, it proved to be a pile of garbage site that didn’t actually pay its creators–but since I don’t want to get sued, I won’t name names. However, they’re fading away into obscurity, so I feel I’ve won.
Regardless, I started my career with erotica because someone told me that the “real money” was in erotica and it’s “so easy to write.”
Don’t take all the advice you get, my friends. Even if it’s well-intentioned, it can be very, very wrong.
Like many people, I had a misguided view of what erotica is, who writes it, its merits, and how writing it actually works.
I could go on a long-winded rant about all of this, but first, let me quickly clear up some things:
Erotica is written by people you’d never expect–because you have a misguided view of erotica.
It’s not easy to write.
It’s not just about titillation.
It pays no differently than any other genre.
Erotica is written by writers from a variety of backgrounds, sexual orientations, ages, genders, socioeconomic classes, religions…you can’t look at a writer and tell they write erotica. Unless, of course, “I write erotica” is written on their forehead, I suppose.
People who identify in a variety of ways enjoy sex and/or writing about it.
And that doesn’t make them good or bad. They’re just human.
Erotica, like any other genre, takes skill to write. It’s not just about describing this thing going into that thing or that thing rubbing against that thing. If it was that easy, every erotica writer would be a millionaire. Like any story, it takes nuance, a way with words, and knowing your audience.
That means it’s not just about getting a reader hard or…moist. I had to use that word to make sure you’re all still with me. Paying attention? Good.
The best erotica stories explore the human condition through sex and sexual identity. Fleshed out characters, the emotions behind sex, what sex means to the character, and how the sexual experience informs their existence, is important. If a reader just wanted to be turned on, they’d go to Google. Porn is free on the internet. Trust me. I accidentally see porn at least a dozen times a day just from being on Twitter.
A reader wants to connect to the characters. To live the sexual experience through identifying with the words on the page. They want to be turned on, sure. However, erotica, in its written form presents the unique opportunity for a reader to delve into the mind of a character. To be aroused and titillated, but also feel some human connection to that experience.
But, like any other genre, how much a writer gets paid depends on skill, dedication, work ethic, creativity…and luck. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you can’t find your audience, you won’t get paid much.
If you’ve read BULLY or BRIEFLY BUDDIES, you’ll know that the stories are definitely about sex. They’re also about love. And family. And friendship. And self-discovery. They’re about life–and sex is a part of life.
Come on, friends. First and foremost, I have to hustle to get people to read my stories.
If you’ve been reading TRICKED: THE MEN OF BRIEFLY BUDDIES on Kindle Vella, you’ll know that a lot of spicy sex has happened so far. We’ve met 5 guys so far–with a 6th one coming later this month. And it has been a spicy, hot, hot, hot journey.
But now that we’re nearly 20 episodes deep into this serial, we’re starting to learn more about the guys. What motivates them to do sex work, how sex work liberates them from life circumstances, how they feel about sex, and what motivates them.
We have a character with a brother in a care home. Sex work allows him to help pay for a better care home for his brother.
We have a character who has no idea what to do with his life after college. Sex work is a way to meet new people, have new life experiences, and figure out where he belongs.
We have a character who thought sex work would be a fun way to make money and pay off his student loans. He finds out that guys who hire sex workers aren’t sleazebags. Some of them are actually pretty nice guys who just need the convenience of sex work to get physical affection.
All of the guys are beginning to learn that sex work can open the world to them. It’s not some sleazy, underhanded niche profession that takes place in back alleys or in the back of cars in abandoned parking lots.
Sex work can involve dignity, respect, friendship, and self-discovery, and a person can make a nice living doing it. When a sex worker builds a client list of good clients, it’s a great job that is just as valid as any other.
Sex workers are not sleazy. People who hire sex workers are not sleazy. It’s an exchange of money for services. It’s someone trying to make a living and another person trying to fill a need.
It can also expand a person’s understanding of their human experience when done well.
And one keeps an open mind.
So, I invite you to read TRICKED: THE MEN OF BRIEFLY BUDDIES (or any of my erotica) and flick the bean (as far as I’m concerned, that’s a gender-neutral term). But stick around to learn about the characters and their circumstances. Flick the bean; learn something about life. Flick the bean; fall in love with a character. Flick the bean; learn about other types of people.
My back hurts and I really need the kids to get off of my lawn.
Not really. My back rarely, if ever, hurts and I don’t care if you’re on my lawn–as long as you don’t bother me.
But seriously, who wants kids on their lawn? Well, kids that don’t belong to them, I mean.
Actually, I don’t mind kids on my lawn. My husband has a different opinion, but I love seeing kids being kids and playing outside. Hopefully, that doesn’t make me sound creepy.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my decision to mostly leave the young adult world behind. Maybe part of my decision to walk away was the feeling that maybe I’ve “aged out” of writing about the teen experience?
I’m thirty. Do I remember and understand what it was like to be a teenager still? Have I gotten old and jaded and focused on matters of more importance? Have I forgotten what it was like to experience first love, first infatuation, the longing for more to life that only youth can rile up in a person’s gut?
I don’t think so, but that’s neither here nor there.
I feel that I’m still closely connected to that youthful part of me that reminds me of how exciting life can be. Each morning I wake up wondering what the day will bring.
In an exciting way. Not with dread.
Each day I still feel the wonder of how amazing life can be. How we can begin in one place and end up in a totally different, unexpected place. I still get excited each morning, wondering if I’ll try new food, make a new friend, or have a new experience.
Lifeis beautiful and amazing and exciting and confusing and sad and happy and…everything.
Life is everything.
Every day is a new possibility–a surprise waiting around each corner. One event after another, waiting for you to show up and discover and participate.
I love life. Maybe more than when I was a teenager. Actually, definitely more than when I was a teenager.
However, one thing I have to admit as an adult–and looking back on my teen years–is that nothing is as important as we think it is when we are young. Neither is it not as important as we think it is when we are young.
Everything is a major event when you are young and new to the world. Every little thing is earth-shattering when you’re a kid.
When we become adults, we tend to mock this phenomenon.
Kids are so dramatic.
You don’t know real struggle, kid!
THAT THING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU WON’T MATTER WHEN YOU GET OLDER!
But…it does matter. Everything that happens to us when we are kids is important.
One of the ways that I think a lot of writers fail to fully capture the child/teen experience is that they write them as frivolous, overly dramatic, overly emotional…titbags?
That’s how we treat teens. Like titbags.
While it’s true that people tend to be more emotional and feel things more deeply–express themselves more effusively–when they are young, it doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t valid. Or genuine. Or that they don’t matter.
When you’re a kid, being a kid is your job. It’s your life. Why wouldn’t the things that happen to us carry a grave weight?
Presently–and for many years–the world has been coming to terms more with how the things that happen to children have a significant impact on their adult life. The traumas, the successes and failures, the happiness, the stability, sexual awakening, friendships–it all matters greatly in our journey towards adulthood. It informs what our entire adulthood might be.
When writing about it, a bit of gravitas is important.
Writing flippantly about what it’s like to be a teen is a trap into which many a writer falls. Portraying teenagers as whiny titbags who get upset over “the tiniest little thing” is how many writers like to portray these smaller, younger humans. Writers tend to be grumpy old men, even if they exclusively write young adult.
You know, maybe it wasn’t earth-shattering that when I was a teenager we couldn’t afford to go see a movie 99% of the time. Or at times that a full plate of food was like Christmas and my birthday wrapped into one.
Maybe it didn’t matter to anyone except me that a certain boy in my classes was the cutest, nicest person ever and I wanted to hold his hand (among other things).
However, it meant something to me. It was my life. It was my world.
It deserves dignity and reverence. Because it was part of my human experience.
Even when writing about people who do not exist, the experiences written about deserve the same. Because someone reading about those experiences might (probably) be experiencing the same things.
They deserve to have dignity. They deserve to have their human experience treated with reverence.
So…I think that is something I can still do. I know I can.
But I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ve told those stories. And I think–regardless of what people might think of the stories as a whole–it can’t be said that I didn’t treat my characters with respect, dignity, or that I didn’t have reverence for them and their human experience.
I wish more writers understood that teenagers are adults with rawer emotions. They feel deeply. They care deeply. They love profoundly. They hate irrationally. They obsess to no end.
But it all matters. It’s all genuine. It’s all human.
The age of the character shouldn’t change how we treat them with our written words.
Treat your young characters how you would want someone to write about your younger self.
Releasing a book, finally publishing a story you’ve worked on forever, comes with baggage. Emotional baggage.
There’s relief and fear and happiness and longing and grief and…everything. Your book is finally out in the world and in the hands of readers, but you have no control over what happens next.
You are no longer spending time with the characters you’ve spent day after day with for God knows how long.
Longing and grief.
You accomplished something on your publishing journey and you are now an author.
Publishing can be bittersweet. It can be joyous. It’s almost always scary. It can be a lot of things. Just as a person has no control over how something makes them feel, an author also has no control over what happens next.
People will love your work and you’ll sell tons of copies…or people will not give a shit about it or hate it. Maybe it’ll just be “okay” to them.
The quality of your writing doesn’t matter often–a story either connects with readers or it doesn’t. An author truly has no control over the life of their book once it’s published.
You can run a brilliant marketing campaign, make promo appearances, run ads, network, network, network…only to have it all fall apart at the finish line.
It’s the nature of the beast.
This phenomenon is why I have a ritual I’ve been observing after every book I’ve published for the last couple of years. Even if nothing goes as planned after a book is released, there is one thing I can control.
I can celebrate achieving my goal.
Not to blow smoke up my own sphincter, but writing and publishing a book is an incredible feat. It takes hard work, discipline, creativity, nerves of steel, and a willingness to be torn to shreds by reviewers.
So, why not do something nice for yourself?
For a few years now, on the release day of a book, I treat myself to something. It’s rarely anything big–and is almost always food–but I do something to commemorate the accomplishment.
To give you all an idea of my “ritual,” here is what I did to mark the special day for a handful of my books:
WHEN WORDS GROW FANGS – I had a big Italian food dinner with my husband. Pasta, Caprese salad, and a big bowl of gelato. YUM!
SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS… – Lomo Saltado and Ramune while watching movies with my husband.
JACOB MICHAELS IS DEAD – We spent the day and night in the hospital for my husband’s (we weren’t married then, though) emergency appendectomy. I had to include this one because it’s funny.
BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE – I went out to a big dinner and stayed up until the donut shops opened so I could have donuts fresh out of the fryer.
POSSIBLY TEXAS – I treated my husband and me to blueberry muffins and coffee from a shop instead of something we made at home.
None of these things were incredibly expensive or all that impressive to anyone else. However, they all have something to do with the book that was released. They had significance for me.
This ritual allowed me to control something about the book’s release and celebrate it. It’s a small ritual that means only something to me, but that’s what makes it so special.
If you’re a writer or an author, and you’re about to release a book, plan something special for yourself. Find some way that is affordable and meaningful to celebrate your accomplishment.
In life, though it may feel otherwise at times, we rarely are in control of much. However, we are in charge of how we celebrate our victories; how we commemorate the meaningful milestones in our journey.
And, if you’re like me, maybe take some pictures of the special event and save them. Make a scrapbook.
One day, you’ll look back, and even the difficult moments will be softened by the lens of time. And you’ll look back with warm feelings at what were truly some of the most meaningful moments of your life.
If you’re a writer, like me, you probably have your experience with world-building. Even those of us who write realistic fiction have to build our worlds, right? We have to explain to our reader (without droning on about it or info-dumping) how our world works, even if our story is set in present-day on Earth and it’s not alternative history.
For me, unless my story is super straightforward, I consider what I’m working on to be Real-World Fantasy. It gives me the freedom to make rules for how MY Earth works. More often than not, I stick to the rules we’re all familiar with because I’ve mostly written Young Adult and New Adult Romance up until recently.
However, a lot of my stories take place in fictional towns. Or fictional high schools. Those settings need to be built so that my readers will believe they are real when they read the story that is set in these places.
For example – JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE 1-3 had Dextrus Academy as the backdrop for a lot of the story, and though unnamed, the tiny little Vermont town where all the characters lived was fictional as well.
Even in a realistic, real-world setting, I had to give rules and backstory so that readers could feel immersed in the setting and find the characters believable.
World-building is done by almost every author in almost every fiction book that is written.
It’s the story that determines how much world-building is needed. High Fantasy will require much more world-building than realistic fiction set in a fictional high school, obviously.
Quickly, so as to not lose your interest, but to give you some idea about world-building if you’re new to it, things that need to be figured out are:
How much of your world do you need to show to tell the story in the book you are writing?
Does the environment/terrain affect your story/characters?
Population size, density, class system, races, ethnicities, species, languages, war/peace, etc.
History of your world
How is your world ruled?
Religion and politics.
I could go on and on…
My next book (coming March 25th, 2022) is POSSIBLY TEXAS and is set in…you guessed it…Possibly, Texas. This is a fictional town, and though set in the real world that we all know, it’s “quirky.” The citizens and the town itself are run by different rules from time to time.
Since it’s set in the real world that we all know, a lot of things were already figured out for me. I didn’t have to worry as much about language, religion, currency, laws, politics, and so forth.
I had to focus on the terrain and geography of the town.
The history and mythology of the town.
Each character’s backstory, how they came to be in Possibly, and what their purpose was in town.
I had to figure out each business in town, who owned and operated it, how it worked, and what service it provided–as well as why.
Who runs the town? Who’s in charge? Do they have a common religion in town? Where do the kids go to school? How do they get utilities and services such as groceries and gas?
In the end, I created a fictional town that worked and ran in a way that would be familiar to readers…but quirky enough to whisk them away on an adventure. To feel that while they have one foot in reality, they’ve stepped through the looking glass. I wanted readers to think:
What have I gotten myself into…and how do I get more?
I would like to invite you on a short walk down Two-Mile Trail.
As we round the wooded bend, we’ll hear a vaguely familiar tune coming from the AMOR speaker set up on the town sign.
Maybe we’ll remember where we’ve heard the song before…maybe we won’t. But we’ll know we know it from somewhere.
Then it’s just a short stroll over Lovelorn Pass Bridge, that someone might be jumping off of and into Susurrus Creek below, and we’ll be in Possibly proper.
If the mystic in the circus tent off of the town square and the giant pirate ship don’t confuse you too much, maybe we’ll explore downtown?
So, you wrote a story. Or a novelette/novella. Or a book.
It took you days, weeks, months, even years. If you’re not a full-time writer, you did this before and/or after work. On your days off. In between taking care of your kids or pets or other loved ones. You snuck in getting some words out while waiting in lines or on your commute (hopefully, on public transport if you were also writing).
You sacrificed time, energy, and other hobbies and interests to bring life to something that meant the world to you.
Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourself!
You’re not even close to done.
As any writer will tell you–though I might be the first–writing is often the easiest part.
The next step (unless you already have an agent) is figuring out how you’re going to publish. Are you going to tighten up your manuscript, edit and proofread, then query agents in pursuit of traditional publishing?
Will you cut out the agent process and query small presses and indie publishers?
Maybe you’ll self-publish?
All of these paths to publishing are valid. Publishing your Word Baby™ is an incredibly personal decision. This first step towards figuring out your path can be difficult. Weighing the pros and cons and how you will feel about your decision down the road can drive a person mad.
Regardless, you have to make a decision. Otherwise, Word Baby™ is never cradled lovingly by another human being. All the time you spent writing it was wasted–unless you’re the type of writer who likes reading their own work over and over. Which is fine.
Whichever path to publishing you choose, there are numerous steps to complete once you’ve made your decision.
Querying, agents, blurb writing, cover design, ISBN assignment (possibly), copyrighting (possibly), developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, proofing, formatting, marketing…begging readers to please, please, please, adopt your Word Baby™.
I’ve seen plenty of writers–who have managed to write a full novel–give up before they are published. Not because they really wanted to get an agent and publish traditionally and it didn’t work out, but because they got burned out.
The process is tedious no matter which option you choose.
Even after the display of stamina, the Herculean effort, shown in writing 50,000+ words, publishing can make a writer crumble.
It’s not just that there are so many steps and the process drags on for what seems like forever.
A writer has to face a lot of critique during theprocess.
Agents, editors, beta-readers, advanced readers, random family members, friends…writers get feedback from everyone. If the feedback is not glowing, it can be a strike to the ego. Even if the feedback is good, it’s often not consistent from one person to the next.
A writer has to somehow figure out whose advice to take and how to implement it into their fixes and corrections.
Writers find that if they traditionally publish–especially as a first-time author–they often have very little control once they sign a contract.
Self-published writers will find that their options may be limited based on their experience and skills, their budget, and what publishing avenues offer to them.
Even if a writer can keep a stiff upper lip and take critique like a pro, and they are able to figure out how to use that critique, as well as have the skills and experience needed to get through the publishing process…there’s the waiting.
Just signed a contract with an agent? Awesome! Now it’s time to develop the story, edit, proof, and figure out how to market it to sell to a publisher.
Which could take…forever. It may never sell.
You may get dropped by your agent.
Then you start all over.
Just signed with an indie publisher or small press? It’s time to brainstorm with a developmental editor. Then do the developmental edits. Which can take months or longer. Then there are 3 to 100 other editing levels to go through. Then proofing. Cover design. Interior formatting. Marketing strategies. Beta-readers. On and on and on.
In the end, when your Word Baby™ finally sees the light of day, you will have read your own book no less than a dozen times from front to back (if you’re lucky), and you might be sick of it. You may never want to see that book again.
If you manage to get to the end.
I’ve known many writers who got tired of the process and gave up on writing for anything other than pleasure. Which, writing for pleasure is fine, but I hate to see anyone give up on a dream.
I know a writer who didn’t get their book published until nearly 20 years after they wrote it.
I know a writer who spent a year writing a novel, found an agent after 6 months, had their manuscript sold to a publisher after another 6 months…and two years later, the publisher pulled out. The writer got to keep their advance since it was the publisher’s decision based on things the writer had no control over, but the process hit a roadblock.
They had to start over after 4 years.
In September of this year, I am going to finally publish a book I’ve been working on for 8 years.
Am I sick of that book yet? Somehow, I am not. But I’m tired of the process.
However, the point of me writing all of this is to not only warn writers and future authors that The Process can be a massive pain in the ass. It’s also to let them know that The Process can be trusted. It should be trusted.
The Process is in place to make sure that your Word Baby™ is the best Word Baby™ it can be.
Don’t let The Process defeat you.
If you can spend years of your life writing your book, surely you can devote as much patience to making sure it’s the best it can be.
PS If you were not aware yet, my next novel, an LGBTQ+ Magical Realism story, POSSIBLY TEXAS, is now available for pre-order. Click on the graphic below to reserve your ebook copy!
Some of us are self-pub, indie, or trad. Or a hybrid of two–or all–of these publishing methods.
However, maybe you’re a writer similar to me, and you get to look through stock photos when it comes to designing your book covers? Maybe you get to have some input? Maybe you get to go through stock photos for promo that you or your publisher are designing?
Regardless of how things work for you and your writing career, you’ve probably sorted through some stock photos at one point or another.
It can be a slog.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing I love more than “stock photo day”–that day I have to sort through dozens or hundreds of model photos to give input on what I’d like to see on a book cover or in a piece of promo.
I’m gay because I like men. Skinny, fat, short, tall, light skin, dark skin–all men are gorgeous to me. I’m drawn more to redheads who are older than me, but that’s neither here nor there…
So, it’s with much consternation that I see a lack of diversity in stock model photos. I’m not sure about smaller agencies that license photos, but the big ones have a problem with diversity for certain.
Most of the model photos I see–and my imprint is so good about finding a variety of models for me, though they have to work with what’s available–are white dudes who are extremely fit or at least not out of shape.
My imprint and I struggle to find models who are Black, brown, Asian, Fat, older, etc.
It can be a real pain in the ass and defeating.
The lack of variety of models is not the only problem, unfortunately.
If we find Black models, they are usually fitness photos, bodybuilding photos, very catalog-y, or the models are placed in hoodies and look menacing. Sometimes the photos are outright racist in their positioning and use of Black models.
When it comes to Fat models, they are usually eating, or doing something silly so they can’t be taken seriously.
Middle Eastern/Asian models are usually very catalog-y or they are dressed in costume-y clothes (that are meant to look “traditional” but fail). Or they are put in glasses, a suit, and given a piece of tech to post with in the photo. It’s racist.
Older models (not even that old–maybe as young as 45/50) are placed in odd positions or told to do odd things for the photos. For example: could you sit in this wheelchair and let us drape a blanket over your legs even though you look like you just sent a kid off to college and are in the prime of your life?
Don’t get me wrong (again) – I’m not trying to beat down the white, fit models. They’re all incredibly good-looking. And we all need to work, right? I can’t hate on anyone getting their bag. Especially when they often don’t make the decisions or get asked their opinions about diversity.
White, fit guys are hot, too. That’s not the problem.
The problem is that Black and other POC, different body types, and a range of ages, are not available.
When they are, they are not photographed like white, fit models.
They are asked to do silly or stereotypical things so that their photos could never be used for a book cover or editorial pieces. They aren’t allowed to be sexy, serious, or artistic. They’re asked to play a role.
It’s not just insulting to the models–though, I can’t imagine how they feel–it’s insulting to people looking to license photos.
How could you possibly want a photo of a Fat model unless they’re eating or doing something ridiculous?
I can’t lay all the blame on the stock photo sites. They often have to decide what to offer based on what freelance photographers have in their books.
Freelance photographers can’t shoulder all the blame because they’re often told what sells and what doesn’t, so they tend to go with white, fit models.
Honestly, I think the blame has to be shared between the sites and the photographers. If sites demanded more variety and diversity in models, and photographers hired a wider variety of models, the problem would be fixed.
If people who license these photos demanded more diversity and variety, and then actually licensed those photos, things would be fixed.
My intention is not to hate on any particular type of model. Again, I just enjoy looking at the men, regardless of their size, shape, color, or age.
Stock Photo Model Day is always the best day, no matter what.
I just wish that more skin tones, body types, and ages flashed across my screen as I was making my decisions.
One thing I’m always fascinated with is how we get from Point A to Point B in life.
If you think about it, when you were a little kid, did you imagine that your life would look exactly as it does now?
I certainly didn’t. My life looks nothing like 8-year-old Chase Connor thought it would.Probably because 8-year-old Chase was a stupid asshole?
Where we started and where we end up are often the complete antithesis of each other. That can be good, bad, or make no difference at all, but it is surprising when you think about it for a minute.
However, when you really delve into how things were versus how they are, you begin to realize something even more important.
It wasn’t the starting point. It wasn’t the destination.
It was the journey.
I had a fairly happy early childhood. My adult life and marriage are…the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.
But they aren’t all that interesting. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my adult life is fairly banal. I get up, make breakfast and coffee for my husband and myself, we eat, we talk and laugh, we get ready for our days, and we both start work.
We have lunch.
We finish work and make dinner.
We watch T.V. or read a book. We talk about the future. We play with our dog. We cuddle. Give each other kisses. Tease each other mercilessly. Sometimes we dance in the kitchen to Sleep on the Floor by The Lumineers or Stardust by Nat King Cole.
We tell silly jokes. We go grocery shopping. We have sex. We just enjoy having our person.
It’s amazing. But interesting? Not really.
What we went through that led to us slow dancing in the kitchen on a random Tuesday night is what is interesting.
The struggles. The fights. The lovemaking. The anger. The forgiveness. The compromise. Learning to communicate. The travels. The big decisions. The health. The illness. The timing of our individual existences that caused both to collide.
That’s the interesting stuff.
It’s one of the reasons that a lot of stories end with “And they lived happily ever after.” or it is assumed when the last word is read. Because what comes after finding the purpose of one’s existence and leaning into it is pretty boring.
Dishes. Housework. Random fights over who drank the last of the milk and didn’t put it on the shopping list. Waking up to dog poop in the hallway even though your pupper is trained. Annoyance that you haven’t had a meal you love in forever because your partner hates it.
It’s all booooooooring. Amazing. But boring.
Boring is great. I’ve never been afraid of a small life. In fact, I think that’s what 8-year-old Chase Connor secretly dreamed of when he thought of his future. He just felt it was maybe not acceptable to wish for…happiness.
We’re all expected to have big dreams and ideas for the future.
Walk on the moon! Discover a new animal species! Heal the sick! Be a millionaire!
My cup runneth over with happiness. That’s always been enough for me. More than enough. It is my dream fulfilled.
But it’s boring. I get that.
So…that’s why the middle of stories is the best for me. What happens between pages 50 and 300, to put too fine a point on it.
Beginnings are often exciting. Endings are often sad. But the journey between the two is what makes things interesting.
As a writer, I guess that’s what I try to deliver. A journey. To take the reader on an adventure through a period of a character’s life. Show them how a character started, and end with how they’ve changed–all while showing how and why that change occurred.
Change is fascinating.
It’s also what I look for as a reader. I want to go on an adventure. I want to get invested in a character so that I care about their change.
I want the journey.
Because…in the end…if we’re lucky…we simply end up happy. And that’s blissfully boring.
I write stories that turn into books. Well, sometimes I write stories that end up as just stories. I give those away or they end up in anthologies from time to time.
Regardless, whenever I write stories–no matter where they end up–I write them the way I see them in my head. What The Muse™ tells me to put down on paper (er, screen?).
I have no other motive than to tell the story the way I feel it should be told. Hopefully, it will make some money for me, but I have no control over that part, so I focus on the telling of the story aspect of writing.
Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, book after book, that has been my modus operandi.
Have a story; tell a story. Release it to the wild.
Other than the hope that a piece of work will make money for me, I have no expectations of what readers will or won’t think. I hope they have a lot of fun reading what I wrote. I love entertaining readers more than anything. However, I know that everything–other than the writing of the story–is out of my hands.
Once that is done, I can’t expect anything specific from my stories. I can’t expect anything from the readers.
I send them out and hope for the best and move on to the next thing.
It has always been that way for me. Until recently…
When I started writing POSSIBLY TEXAS in November of 2020 (during NaNoWriMo), I was so excited. It’s a story about a quirky little town with quirky citizens and it’s a lot of fun. It’s charming. Cute. I felt like readers would enjoy visiting this weird little town and all of its weird little citizens that live in my head.
Over the next year, I realized that I was writing something that was a metaphor. Even I didn’t know what my brain had in mind when I started writing the story. POSSIBLY TEXAS wasn’t just a story about a quirky town and the Possbilians who live there.
With each new page I wrote and polished, I realized that the book was full of my own personal philosophies. My hopes. My dreams. What I hoped for others. The way I see the world. What life means to me.
I found myself hoping–for the first time ever–that readers would feel…something more…while reading one of my books.
I hope POSSIBLY TEXAS entertains. It has a lot of fun characters and locales. I hope readers are charmed and delighted but what they find on the pages.
But I hope it leads readers to also, well, hope. My wish is that it inspires kindness and mindfulness. That it makes readers pause and think of the world outside of themselves.
I hope it inspires everyone to want to be a Possibilian.