Updated: Feb 10
I didn't know I was actually an author until a week before the release of my first book, "Blue." Until I started seeing reviews from complete strangers who received my book as an ARC (advanced reader copy), I wasn't able to see those 127,454 words I'd written on blank pages as something real, as a story that others could follow outside the context of my own mind. I didn’t know I was capable of telling a complete story through the written word. But really, if I stop and think about it, I've been telling stories my whole life.
It started with the drama of over-exaggerating the events in my life as I retold them to friends during the tumultuous middle school years. Not to say I lied, rather I retold the reality in a way that made the events seem bigger, bolder, vastly more important than they truly were. Now, let's be honest. Most middle schoolers blow the little things out of proportion, so I'm sure I'm not alone in that. But I didn't realize until now how much I thrived on the reactions of others around me, not to the story itself, but to the emotions my retelling elicited.
The drama of real life (oh, boy), simply wasn't enough for me. I was a movie buff. I prided myself on watching movies, critiquing them, sharing what I loved about the stories and the characters, but even more so in wondering how the story could have been told better. At some point, I started putting pen to paper.
I wrote my first screenplay in the seventh grade. I remember to this day it was 72 handwritten pages (front and back, woot!) in a blue spiral bound notebook. Since I was a drama lover, it serves to reason that I was obsessed with horror movies. Why my parents let me watch "Scream" at 13-years-old, I'll never understand, but bless them for doing it (is that weird to say?) because horror writing is what started it all for me. That screenplay was, in hindsight, truly terrible. Obviously, I had no life experience at 13-years-old. I struggled to understand the humanity of the horrors on screen and capture them in writing. But regardless, I wrote the horror movie that featured a "Spice Girls" song about halfway through just before some dumb jock got his head cut off (lord, help me).
You might be wondering, "Where is this ridiculous script? I have to see this!"
Well, truthfully, no one will ever see it and I can tell you the reason why. Because I destroyed it. When I finished writing the script and read back through it, I suddenly became terrified that my parents, teachers, frenemies (…church leaders, the cops, the President, Justin Timberlake…) might find it hidden beneath the pile of clothes in the bottom drawer of my bedroom.
What will people think of me if they see this?
Will they think I'm crazy?
Will they hate me?
Will my parents disown me?
WILL I GO TO JAIL?
I felt such shame for what I wrote. I was disgusted with myself for putting down thoughts on paper that were swirling around in my head. So I destroyed it. I tore up each page piece by piece and when my parents weren't watching, dumped the pieces in the bottom of the trash can. And yes, I shifted garbage around to make sure the pieces were safely at the bottom so they wouldn't accidentally spill over the top. I did this little by little every day, handfuls at a time, bit by bit destroying this thing I was ashamed of but should've been proud of.
I got back into writing for fun in high school, but this time I had a support group. My girlfriends and I started writing fanfiction. I remember passing pages back and forth during study hall, taking turns writing pieces of a story that slowly came together over days and weeks and months.
This continued into college. I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent many of what might've been fun college party nights holed up in my room, bouncing emails back and forth to my bestie, working on our Harry Potter fanfics (Harry Potter is the best, you can't argue with me on that!).
I had so much fun writing fanfic and learned so much about crafting a good story. Sadly, that all came to an end, too. I graduated from college and tried to become a "grown-up with a real job." I bounced around from career to career unhappily throughout my twenties, always thinking I'd found my fit, but realizing with every change I'd made a mistake. But even through those mistakes, I grew, gained life experience, learned about how the world works (and doesn't work), and strived to gain perspective on humanity.
At some point, I destroyed those fanfics, too. My (very dumb) reasoning was that I needed to be a "career-minded woman" and heaven forbid my emails should get leaked and someone find all of this fanfiction! Mind you, the fanfiction morphed into new stories and characters that were dark, raw, often dirty, very human. I was, again, afraid of what people would think if they saw my writing.
It turns out that deleting that work is one of the biggest regrets of my life.
My bestie, the person I’d written everything with, my true soulmate, the girl who knew me better than I knew myself, passed away unexpectedly a few years ago.
And I had deleted every word we'd written together.
My heart will ache forever to get those words back. To read them again would be divine. It would be a glimpse backward in time to who I was, to who she was. It would be such a beautiful thing to reread the stories and worlds we had created together. But that will never happen.
Her death was tragic. It was, and forever will be, the most horrible thing that has happened in my life. I will grieve her loss every day for the rest of my life. But I am determined to never again grieve the loss of words and characters and stories and worlds that help me express my own unique view of humanity. I will never again destroy words because I'm too afraid of writing the truth, of being bold. For her, my best friend forever, I will write and write and write.
I share all of this to help your readers understand why I write boldly today. Releasing my first novel, "Blue," is truly the scariest thing I've ever done. I'm terrified of what people will think of the characters and stories my mind conjures up. I'm terrified of what people will think of me. But as I've grown older, wiser, come to know that storytelling is (and really, has always been) my passion in life, I realize that it doesn't matter. Some people will hate my books and that's okay. Some people will love my books and that's awesome. For those who love them, you are the people who make it all worth it.
So my books may not be everyone's cup of tea. Some of them down the road may even push the envelope of acceptable (buckle up for all the dark romance I have planned!). I've wasted too much of my life being scared of what people will think of my writing and destroyed too much of my own joy and passion and hard work to hold back now.
For me, I will write honestly.
For me, I will write shamelessly.
For me, I will write boldly.
And for you, glorious readers, seekers of good stories, I will share my dark, dirty, kinky, raw works of fiction in hopes that it makes you feel something.
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