After what appears to have been around three years of inactivity, I finally logged back into GoodReads and waded through my mail and friend requests.
I… have reviews? People actually read my books? This is very weird.
A lot of bad crap sort of poisoned my feelings about my career before it ever got off the ground. While editing my second book with Entangled my best friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and my long-term partner and I split up.
I finished editing that book, somehow. Then the Outlaws series and Familiar with Salt of the Earth were written during a manic frenzy of grief after my best friend died.
Right around my wedding, I crashed and lost the ability to write at all, as exhaustion from trying to keep up with authors who somehow managed to publish books hundreds and hundreds of pages long every month or even every week finally caught up with me.
And then the depression kicked in. As the depression kept me from doing things I was supposed to be doing (posting interviews and promotional stuff for other authors, finishing the sequel to Familiar), guilt for letting people down hit me like a tidal wave, which made it that much harder to get anything done.
Thus DMs and emails went unanswered. I “forgot” my passwords for my accounts on GoodReads, Tumblr, etc. I wanted to disappear and wished I could make my books disappear as well. The thought of people reading them made me feel sick. I felt worthless, so surely my own books were worthless as well?
As I’ve been getting better, I’ve begun thinking about writing again. Like finishing the Familiar sequel, Dragon. Like finishing #ProjectTrashGods, an idea I’ve been kicking around for years. Or get my secondary world fantasy novels finished. Yet a lingering shame kept me back, feeling as though the books I wrote in my grief were surely so bad, so rushed, that I’d already ruined my shot at my career.
So I did something I’ve never done before and actually sat down to read my own books, post-publication. Because of the rush on Familiar and the Outlaws books, they’re in sore need of further editing. Typos slipped through and plots in need of more breathing room got shoved down into as small a space as possible just to get the book finished. Because of the collaborative nature of the Outlaws series (I wrote it with Sarah Christian), there are places where I would have done things much differently if I’d been writing them alone.
And yet I found joy in them. There was joy in the characters flailing about in the ridiculous and often dangerous situations they found themselves in. There was joy in the grief and horror and trauma so many of them faced, along with the beautiful redemption and comfort they found with one another. Some clunky passages were sprinkled here and there that better editing could have helped with, yes, but also turns of phrase I get chills of pride over. I still want to write in the same way that I still want to breathe.
So keep your eyes open for Dragon. I don’t know when the release date will be yet, but I’ll keep you posted. An expanded new edition of Familiar is coming as well, newly edited and polished with the respect it always deserved. Other projects are chugging away. I’m also going to be reaching out to my writer community and hopefully making amends for the way I dropped off the planet.
In a lot of ways it feels like starting over, but if that’s what it is, at least this time I’ve got the benefit of knowing exactly how badly I want it.