I’ve been planning on doing a blog style series on my website for a while now. I’ve talked about it enough. My Camino pieces were meant to be like that, then life happened.
I’ve recently made a promise to myself to do a blog post every Wednesday. No matter what.
As much as I love writing stories about half made up people, I know I need to write something about someone I fully made up.
I believe me and my crazy brain need multiple outlets to unleash creativity. It’s long been my dream to write articles and blog posts about travel, beauty, books, food, mental health…and whatever else I can. And you know the only way to make dreams come true is to wake the fuck up.
So this is what I’m doing.
Waking the fuck up.
Today’s post was actually meant to be another Camino instalment but then, sitting on the London Underground, this hit me. I wrote almost this entire post between Paddington and London Bridge, for my Londoners out there. It poured out of me without conscious effort. It’s something I didn’t even know I needed to say until I wrote it down.
I’ve been writing for almost four years in April. A relatively short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. But in that time, I’ve managed to write twenty-one books, have about forty-five thousand mental breakdowns, travel the world, and meet some of the most incredible and talented people to grace this earth.
Writing Making the Cut, I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that all this could have come of it. I didn’t think anything would come of it. I didn’t even tell my friends or family anything until Out of the Ashes was published.
Once I did, my best friend demanded I send her the books so she could read them.
I was nervous, to say the least. Someone who knew me personally was going to read my books. It became real. Not that it wasn’t real before, but I had somehow separated my life writing and my everyday life. It was like I had two different identities, and that insulated me from whatever hate I got online (and at the start, there was a lot). Because if everyone began hating my books and I had to stop, it would be okay, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’d have the ‘other’ me to fall back on, no one in my ‘real’ life would be the wiser to my failure.
Telling my family and friends, having them read my books, sent my two worlds, two identities on a collision course that had the potential to ruin both of my carefully separated personalities. Luckily that didn’t happen. My bestie loved the books. And so did my family— though I do cringe a little thinking about people related to me reading the saucier scenes. Sorry, Mum.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, home in New Zealand, sitting in my kitchen guzzling wine and talking to my best friend about my books. She began talking about reading my first books. She said she felt like she was hanging out with me, that they were fun and light and happy.
That got me to thinking about those first books. About how different I am as a person and as a writer since them. It’s a bittersweet feeling, because I have grown so much, overcome a lot and I’m (most of the time) proud of who I am as a person and as an author.
But I also realize that a lot of people, like my best friend, are kind of nostalgic for that old magic. The early magic of my first books. Where I didn’t really know anything about writing a book so I wrote with naivety. A different kind of honesty than I do now. It was lighter, my writing. Because as a person, back then, I was lighter. And not just on the scales.
I find myself wanting to capture that magic again sometimes. Even if it’s only to revisit the person I was back then for a moment.
Despite the fact I don’t want to be her anymore, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with her again. Having a cocktail with her.
One of the reasons my writing was different back then was because I was writing without expectation. I was naïve. I didn’t think anyone would read my books. I expected nothing. Which was why I didn’t tell my friends and family at the beginning. I didn’t think there was anything to tell them. I thought it was a hobby, tapping away at the keyboard in the middle of the night, between university essays and my part time job as a retail assistant.
But then it became something.
I write honestly. I always have and always will. There’s no other way for me. So maybe that’s why I find myself nostalgic for the old days, the early books. Because sometimes, I’m nostalgic for the old me.
I realize my books have become harder. More frustrating. Darker.
Because that’s who I am right now.
I inject my demons into my books. Not because I’m trying to banish them. Because I’m trying to understand them.
I consider my books kind of a roadmap of my personal development. If you read my work chronologically, you’ll find yourself on a journey of not only the characters, my ability to turn a phrase, but of me.
I’m every single character I write. Sometimes my characters are who I want to be. Who I don’t want to be. And they’re who I am at the time, for better or for worse.
That’s why I’m writing this post. For you, my loyal reader, who’s been here since Cade and Gwen. To help you understand why my books have taken the direction they have. Maybe I’m writing it to help myself understand too.
I know some people are anxious and frustrated for me to go back to the place I was when I wrote Making the Cut, Firestorm and Out of the Ashes. Honestly, sometimes I am too. But then I look at myself in the mirror, then I realize I don’t want to be that girl. Despite the fact I now battle with mental health issues I didn’t have then, despite the fact my life is a fuck of a lot more complicated, a web of decidedly adult decisions, and despite the fact sometimes I find it impossible to open my laptop and write with a brutal honesty my soul requires—I wouldn’t trade who I am now for who I was then.
I don’t want to be the girl I was then. I’m proud as fuck as the woman I am now.
My books might get harder. Darker. I can promise you that with Doyenne.
They also might get happier, lighter and you might find a hint of that old magic.
I can’t promise you that. I definitely can’t promise myself that. Because I don’t know where my life is going to take me. Therefore I don’t know where my writing is going to go.
I love that uncertainty. The fear that comes with it. I find I write the best from a place of fear.
And trust me, there’s a lot of fear. Writing is about my personal journey through trauma, happiness, sadness, tragedy and miracles. When that personal journey is intrinsically linked to my career, my livelihood, there are moments I wake up at three in the morning in a cold sweat, thinking, fuck, what if my honesty as a person and as a writer kills my career? What if I wake up in the morning, personally healed but professionally broken?
It’s a hard reality to face. But it’s something that every single writer faces. And I’m learning to lean into that fear.
It’s like a marriage, my relationship with my books, my writing and myself.
It’s not always a happy one. Or a healthy one.
But it’s one I’m committed to.
Till death do us part.
*I also realize that not all of my books are pictured, I wasn’t organized enough to have them all in stock.