It’s that time again. It’s the last day of yet another year, and we can’t help but look back and take stock of all we’ve done…and all we haven’t done. Did we accomplish everything we wanted? Was it a hard year? Was it a good year? Was it a year to look back on and be proud?
Each of us have our own answers to those questions, but for me, 2015, was a year of finding my feet yet again in an ever changing industry, while dealing personally with the chaos loss creates within one’s family. If I had to sum it up with one word, I’d call 2015 ‘Complicated’.
In saying that, I have learnt some wonderful lessons, and I think as a result, I’ve become a kinder and more caring person in both my personal and professional life by taking the time to pay attention to those around me. Some people, I saw more clearly, and others I realised that I hadn’t really been seeing at all. I also took stock of what was important to me as a woman, as a mother, as a wife and as a friend, and I took steps to find contentment in all that I was and take back control of the things that weren’t working.
I let go of a lot in 2015. And while doing so, I felt lighter, and lighter in my heart. And in my heart, I found that girl who dreamed of love and happy endings, the girl who was ballsy enough to take risks and follow her heart – the girl who convinced me to start writing professionally in the first place.
Oh, how I welcomed her back into my life!
Somewhere along the way, I’d stopped listening to her – I don’t know why – I suppose I got caught up in numbers and business decisions and marketing plans and everything else that goes along with this job of mine. But, when I started listening to her again, she convinced me to write THAT book. You all know the one – the one that made you all cry. I’d been so scared to write it. I was worried that you’d all hate me for it. I was worried that it would ruin my career. But that little voice inside me convinced me to take a risk, so I did, and it was totally worth it. Did I lose some readers? Yes. I did. Did I gain some readers? Most definitely. But more importantly, I gained a sense of pride in myself. I was proud because I finally stood up and took a big risk; I finally did something that really scared me.
In my career, I have written four books that were truly contained the loudest and most intense characters in my mind – A Beautiful Struggle, Drawn, 47 Things, and now, In the Wind. There were the books were I could close my eyes and see everything so clearly that the words just poured from my fingertips. It was truly as though I was there, witnessing everything that was happening first hand. They are the books that I, as a writer, love most. Those are the books I want to write – they’re the books I’m in love with.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve loved every book I’ve ever written, and I loved all the characters each time I let them take over my mind. But sometimes, I’ve had to mix my writing choices with my business decisions, and at times, that has taken some of the fun out of it.
At any one time, there are numerous characters from numerous books living in a writer’s mind, and sometimes, because this is a business, writers have to tell those voices to be quiet because they need to write a story about XYZ because of commitment ABC. Maybe that isn’t where their heart is in that moment. But it doesn’t mean they don’t love the characters they have to write about, it just makes things a little more difficult when characters from other stories are being pushy and yelling while you sleep.
So, in 2015 I made a promise to myself to write the stories that are the loudest in my mind. I did that with 47 Things, and I’ve done it again with In the Wind. And I have to tell you, I love both of those stories. They are my best work, and there isn’t a negative review in the world that will change my feelings about those characters or about my ability as a writer to tell their stories. because like I said, I found a sense of pride and I learned how to listen to that driving force inside me, showing me my path and pushing me take those risks by telling love stories that may not be what people are expecting, but are relevant to the world we live in. My goal as a writer, is to stay true to my characters, and to make readers feel, and to do that successfully, I need to feel it to my very core whenever I sit down to tell a story. I need to laugh. I need to cry, I need to fall in love, I need to feel that pain of fear in my chest when I think something isn’t going to turn out so well. I need to hand out pieces of my soul within my work if I expect you all to take it in and live amongst my words. That’s my job. And that’s what I promise you as a reader, and myself as the writer that I’m going to do moving forward.
In 2015, I grew up. In 2015, I learned to stop being scared. In 2015, I learned to listen to the loudest voices. In 2015, I learned to take pride. In 2015, I fell in love with writing again.
In 2016, I hope you’ll stay with me, it’s going to be quite a ride.