I don’t write many blog posts. In fact, I’m terrible at blogging. I’d much rather be writing fiction. Except that’s been difficult recently. And I haven’t talked to anyone about the full extent of what I’ve been going through. Not even my best friends. It’s not so much I don’t trust them to understand. In all honesty, it has nothing to do with them at all. It’s just me having a huge internal crisis of confidence. And sharing that felt impossible until now.
Well… it’s because I’ve come to realise what is wrong and why I feel the way I do. It all comes down to the last book I finished writing. One I’m releasing August 7th 2020.
This book… where do I even start?
Our Darkest Hour came to me when I designed a random cover one day after needing a change of pace. This character, Rhys, would not leave me alone and it became very clear to me, this story wasn’t going to be like anything I’ve ever written. I poured the words onto the page straight from my soul. These two characters, Rhys and Aaron, go through so much. It’s the most emotional journey I’ve ever been on.
So why the crisis after I finished this book?
Shouldn’t I be celebrating writing what I feel is the most soul destroying and heartwarming book I’ve ever written?
Well yes… but in a lot of ways, I’ve not been. No, I’ve instead been lumbered with a crap ton of self-doubt. And whilst I started writing the next book, I reached a point where I just couldn’t get the words out. I’ve tried so hard, but so many days, I’ve written nothing at all. I’m sure that’s not an issue for a lot of writers, but for me? It’s a major one. Writing fiction is my career, it’s my job and I can’t help feeling like a failure when I can’t perform my job.
Ultimately the reason I haven’t been able to write comes down to one thing. This book destroyed my creativity. Now, that sounds really dramatic, but let me explain. I’m still a creative person. I’m still coming up with stories, characters, plots and narratives. None of that has changed. It has more to do with the fact I can’t stop comparing everything I write to Our Darkest Hour. I can’t stop thinking… how do I top this book? How do I write a book as good as this again? How do I ever create something as compelling, soul destroying and uplifting as this book?
I’ve never had this problem before. Never compared my books to each other. Our Darkest Hour isn’t just A book to me… it’s THE book to me. It probably means more to me than any other book I’ve ever written. Not to say that my other books aren’t equally as important, because they are. I love all my books and my book kids. I guess something about Rhys and Aaron’s story hit home for me.
What’s even crazier to me is the fact I’ve not even released this book yet. I have NO idea how it will be received. It’s not like any book I’ve written before. Not just because it’s over 120,000 words in length, which is a hefty size for a romance book. It’s not even the first time I’ve written queer characters. It’s the first time I’ve written a male/male romance. And it’s the first time I’ve written a story which spans over a large chunk of their lives.
To me, it doesn’t matter that these are characters are gay or that one of them is demisexual. This was never about writing a queer or LGBTQ romance. It was always about me telling a story about two characters who fall in love. I write stories about human beings. So their gender, their orientation… I don’t think anything of it. It just is what it is. I’m not trying to misrepresent anyone and I don’t have an agenda. I merely wrote the story which came to me.
Going back to my original point… I don’t know what my readers will think of this or whether they’ll like it. I think in a lot of ways I’m going struggle when it comes out as I poured my heart out onto the pages with this one. I guess this book has the biggest pieces of myself I’ve ever given. And that scares me. So perhaps that’s why I’ve become so consumed with worry and anxiety over what I’m writing now. I guess there’s a lot of reasons, but I know I’ve got to push through this self-doubt. I’ve got to keep going. There is no other option.
The point of this blog post is to show I’m not a superhero. I’m flawed and I go through the same doubts as all writers do. I reached a crisis point and I didn’t know what to do about it. Taking a break seemed like a good idea, but in reality, it only spiralled me further into self-doubt and anxiety over my ability to produce another knockout book.
So, no more breaks. It’s time to get back to business.
I’ll get through this, just like all the other trials I’ve been through during my writing career. I know I will. Soon, I’ll believe in myself again. Perhaps it won’t happen until after I’ve released this book and honestly? That’s okay. Sometimes you have to go through hard times to recognise the good ones.
All I know is I’ve learnt a lot from this experience. From this book. From these characters. They’ve taught me so much and for that, I’ll be forever grateful to Rhys and Aaron for giving me their story even if it almost destroyed me and my creativity.
And maybe… if you read it… it will destroy you. But I do hope it’ll put you back together again too.