I'm sorry if I judged you...

As I sit down to write this post, I am approximately 94K words into Severed (Savior Series #3). At face value, that might sound great. To some, that's a lot of words. To others, maybe not so much. You might think I must be nearing the end, while perhaps another may congratulate me for the accomplishment of stringing together that many words into coherent sentences - because he or she is certain they could never do such a thing.

At face value, 94K words is an accomplishment. It may even be something I should be proud of - but if you knew me and my story, you'd understand why I'm still trying to decide how I should feel about my progress.

When I wandered into the world of Facebook and the indie author community, it was the first time I understood how I measured up against other authors. Even more, what I saw and experienced set the bar for how fast I needed to go in order to keep up with my peers - or at least the ones who seemed to be making it. Add on top of that things like writing sprints (how many words can you write in an hour?) or the 100K Challenge (can you write 100K words in a month?) and the competitor inside of me was constantly trying to rise to the occasion. (Though, admittedly, I was never that great at sprinting.)

It seemed like everyone around me was trying to figure out the best strategy. Write three books before you publish your first one, then release them in X amount of time. Or write in a series, because standalone novels don't do well. Or read this book or that book on how to become a better writer. Or publish this many books in this amount of time in order to drive sales. And - my favorite - your first draft shouldn't take you any longer than three months to write, no matter how long it is; if it does, your story will start to feel off. Stephen King said that last one. I read it somewhere sometime, and I thought it was brilliant. It justified my need for speed. Even worse, it contributed to the judgey thoughts of my shadow-self. (You know, the not so great version of yourself that follows you around everywhere.)

Twice I've written an entire novel in thirty days. My longest novel I wrote in about three months. I thought my speed was a defining characteristic when it came to me as a writer. It wasn't necessarily that I thought I was more talented than anyone because I was fast; rather, I convinced myself that it meant I was more determined, more focused, more driven, more disciplined. I thought it meant I wanted it more, I was more resilient, and my dedication would propel me into the arena of success.

I've never been that author who could write a thank you post to my readers for buying so many copies of my books that I got an author rank on Amazon or that nifty orange, best-seller banner. I've never made a list, and some big blog has never wanted to talk about one of my stories.

Don't get me wrong, I cannot even adequately wrap my head around how humbling it is that anyone would want to buy my novels. For all my readers out there, you're amazing, and I'm so happy to share my stories with you. I write because I love it - but I keep sharing what I write because you enjoy it, and that is awesome. 

However, I'm not perfect...and there was a season of my life where my ambition fueled my fire and distorted my definition of success. (Sometimes I wonder if I even knew what my definition of success was. I do now - but I'll tell you later.)

Because I didn't think I was successful - no matter how many people tried to convince me that I was - I needed something to make me feel like I wasn't failing in every way. So, I sank my claws into what I could consider victory - and that was my ability to write good, decent length novels in record time. Unfortunately, that turned me into this person who didn't try to understand the other authors who were vocal about their processes. I didn't have compassion for people who struggled with finding time to write, or authors who took six months to a year to write a single book and were frustrated with their inability to keep up in the rat race. I didn't listen to writers who wished they could do more, but then filled their feed with photos of everything they were doing instead of writing. I became very narrow minded when it came to establishing what it took to get a book out in what I considered "good timing." Furthermore, I was really harsh when it came to what it meant for your work to even be worthy of the category of novel. And if you weren't willing to make sacrifices, I had no advice for you.

Thankfully, life and God and grace happened, and I'm not that person anymore. I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately, which has led to a good deal of soul scrubbing, and I'm accepting my flaws and acknowledging my need for boundaries. As I've mentioned before, comparison is my greatest vice - and it's also a heavy burden to bear, like constantly carrying around a measuring stick that weighs a thousand pounds. The truth is, I won't ever measure up because it's not a competition. At least, it shouldn't be. It took leaving the author community I thought I needed, but I'm learning that by taking my craft and trying to make it an enticing product meant to stand out against everyone else's - for me - it ruins it. It ruins me.

I'm storyteller. That's my gift. That's what I love. The stress of everything else? Marketing, and trying to stay relevant, and trying to keep up with the most "successful" writers out there... It's not worth it. So I'm learning to do things differently. I'm learning to hold onto the parts of this that I enjoy, let go of the things that make me ugly, and trust God to handle the rest. And - speaking of rest - I'm learning to do that, too.

As I sit down to write this post, I am approximately 94K words into Severed (Savior Series #3). It's taken me two and a half months to get that far. Moreover, I don't estimate that I'll be finished for at least another two or three weeks. Maybe four or five. I don't know. For me, that's incredibly slow. Some days, I don't know what to think of this pace. I fear I'm being lazy or I'm taking too long. I'm afraid every book is going to take me this long to write, and I'm not sure if I'm all right with that. Some days, I don't write at all. Some days, I write no more than a paragraph. Some days, that's okay. Some days, I'm afraid it's not. I beat myself up a lot, but I try to remember to show myself grace, too. In short, I'm reprograming my brain, I'm learning a new routine, I'm figuring out what healthy is - and it's hard. But you know what? I haven't given up. And this story, it has an ending - and I'm going to get there.

On the days when I'm not frustrated with myself, I'm finding value in my slow pace. I'm certain that if I wrote this book any faster, it wouldn't be the same story. I've always written character driven fiction, and this story is no different - but I'm not rushing Cruiz and Hanna; and in taking my time, it's as if I'm giving myself the opportunity to know them better. They've changed this plot in ways I didn't anticipate. I'm hoping, in the end, it makes for some of my best work. We'll see. In any case, this post really isn't about them, it's about you...at least, the yous that can relate.

To every author out there who writes slowly, who takes the time to make dinner for their friends, who goes to bed early to snuggle with their spouse, who invests in another hobby - like making soap - to every author whose process is different than mine, whose books are shorter than mine, and whose life-story I do not know - I'm sorry if I judged you. It wasn't my place, it was far from nice, and I won't do it anymore. You deserve better from me. I'm your peer, not your foe, and I endeavor to act as such.


  1. R.C. - This post really spoke to me, in fact I'm tearing up at my desk as I was reading it. I beat myself up all the time about the same kinds of things you do. You're not alone in this thought process. I'll be lucky if I publish 1 book this year. I had to take a really long look at what I was doing previously and realized my relationship with my family was suffering and I had to make a balance. So I did, as difficult as I was.
    You are truly inspirational and I can't wait for you to be my editor and hopefully even closer friend :)


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