Sunday, 30 November 2014

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

Sylvia Plath

Love is a funny thing. One minute you feel the future is assured, and it's beautiful. The next you feel the world is in flames and your only course of action is to shut everything down. Hard.

I went through a couple of years in hard shutdown mode with my writing. 2013 was obviously very difficult, and I've talked about that before. But it started earlier. It started with WILD.

WILD is an urban fantasy/new adult about werewolves and drug addiction. It's not a happy read and it wasn't a happy write. It went through something like seventeen incarnations and two literary agents before I decided to self-publish it. I was in love, you see. And I figured I just needed to get the book out there for everyone else to love too, and that everything would be bright and shiny from that point on.

Leaving aside whether or not WILD is a good book or not, that was pretty naive of me. WILD did garner some good reviews and it's the only book I've ever written that readers have contacted me about - asking when/if I'd write the sequel, telling me they loved it. That's an awesome feeling, but as I started to experience self-doubt and frustration about my writing and my writing career, it wasn't enough to sustain my love. The novel was sinking without trace despite my efforts to keep it afloat, and after seventeen drafts, two agents, numerous publisher rejections, and the pitfalls of self-publishing, shutting down just seemed like the only option I had the energy for.

I pulled WILD, along with my other self-published stuff, and removed them from my blog. I didn't talk about it, I didn't think about it. I didn't want it. It felt like a failure. All this time and energy and passion and devotion...for nothing. I remembered the words of a writer whose work I'd loved when I first discovered urban fantasy - essentially "don't get hung up on this One Idea." If it doesn't work, don't waste your time. Move on. I figured I was in danger of making WILD my One Idea that wasn't working, and so I pulled the plug and tried to move on.

Between then and now, I've wrestled with writing demons. Am I'm writing the right stuff? Who am I writing for? Should I be writing at all?

It's taken a while for me to answer those questions for myself, and I can sum up the answer in one word: authenticity.

Remember at the start of November I talked about how I was trying to finish off a short story and even though it literally just required me to write a sex scene and tweak the ending, I couldn't do it? It's because I was trying to force a story to happen that wasn't a story I really wanted to write. It was a story I was pretty sure I could get published, that's all. But it wasn't a story that represented me as a writer or a person. It didn't come from a place of passion. Instead I started working again on Nightmare Moon, a story I'm so passionate about I will talk your face off about it at the least provocation (ask Kyle), a story I'm dreaming about, a story I'm just obsessed with. And it's going really fucking great. It's a story I want to tell. It's authentically me.

When I realised that, I started thinking about the works I have published and how I feel about them. I've said forever that I think UNDERTOW is the best thing I've ever written, and it's definitely the truest representation of the books I love and want to write. It's dark and nasty and uncomfortable, and it's awesome and I love it. And I thought...isn't that how I felt about WILD too?

Well yes, yes it is. That's exactly how I felt about WILD and that's why I worked so hard on it for so long, why I rewrote it all those times, why I pitched it to anyone and everyone who could have taken it and why, finally, I self-published it. It's a true, authentic representation of who I am as a writer and the stories I want to tell. And if I don't have it out in the world, I'm lying to myself and my readers about those things.

So I republished WILD. Currently it's only available on the Kindle, but I'm going to make it available for other platforms too. I've done it for myself - I'm past the point where I expect this book to set the world on fire, but I want this book I love, the book that came from a place of passion, to be out in the world again. I worked hard and fierce for this book, and then I gave up on it. I think WILD and I both deserve a little more faith from me than that.