I cried all weekend. Not just one singular tear rolling down my cheek. A massive deluge of salt water flooding my face to the point where the words on my screen were nothing but a muddled blur in front of me. Painful, gut-wrenching sadness as seen through the eyes of the character I was writing.
Yeah, it seems intense, I know. You ever read a story and suddenly you find yourself all kinds of emotional? You feel the essence of the pain as the character does. That’s how you know the tale is good. It tears you apart inside as if it’s real. That’s the beauty of reading. The temporary escape into someone else’s life.
Now imagine how it feels for the author. The person who immerses herself (or himself – dudes do it, too!) in this world she’s created.
As we write, we develop this powerful connection with our characters. We live in their heads for weeks, months, years. When they smile, we smile. When they break, we break. It’s extreme and sad and awesome and incredible at all once. We live for these fictional people, dragging them through the mud only to pick them up and dust them off. By the end, we’re mentally drained, happy and exhausted. Our new friends have their HEA and we move on to other stories, but what if it doesn’t work that way?
What if the characters can't end up happy?
That’s a struggle, especially in the industry I’m in. Romance readers want the pain. They want to cry. They want their still-beating hearts ripped from their chests, but when all is said and done they expect it all to be put back wrapped in a pretty bow. It’s an unspoken rule.
Anyone who’s read my stories will know that I’m set in reality. I don’t write a lot of unrealistic fluff or insta-love type scenarios. I thrive on the angst. I get off on the drama of real-life issues. I don’t fuck around. HEA’s aren’t realistic. Life hurts. That’s the sad truth.
Which circles me back to the weekend. I hid in my cave banging the keys with such fervor that I felt drunk on words by the time I was done. My head was spinning, my heart on fire, my face a torrent of tears. Is an HEA coming? I honestly don’t know. I can’t say. All I know is that these characters continue to tear me apart with every word and I want them to triumph.
Sharing my work before it’s finished is usually something I DO NOT do. I have a habit of running back to words already written and changing shit. I’ll tear apart full chapters and add characters that weren’t even there. It’s a curse. I joke that I can’t keep my hands off my own work, but it’s the damn truth. Remember Resurrecting Hope and The Captain? Yeah, neither does my editor… lol! Those scenes made it into the story two days before I hit publish. But I digress …
One of my alpha readers has been following the story as I write. I've been waking up to blubbering messages from her losing her mind over my recent work in progress. Her utter excitement over what's to come has been a serious source of motivation for me to get this book finished and into your hands. I can't wait.
While I do have books that fly off the proverbial shelves (thank you, always, for reading my work! It means the world to me!), as much as it hurts, Pretty Reckless has never been one of them. *womp womp* The idea of a heroin addict and an alcoholic doesn't exactly instill that warm and fuzzy feeling most romance readers are looking for, I guess. Sometimes I feel like I'm insane committing myself to writing a sequel to a book that really didn't do that well by my own absurd standards. But that's ok. Not every story is meant for human consumption. Sometimes we just need to get the words out, and if a good cathartic cry comes with it, so be it.
And I'm crying. Hard.