The Making Of: Severed (Savior Series #3)

After I'm finished writing a book, I get this feeling. It's nothing dramatic or life changing; it's not even deep or extraordinarily exciting. (Except for that one time, when I wrote the final paragraph of Worthy of the Melody. That was awesome.) This moment I'm referring to doesn't last very long. Even more, I'm fully aware that when I type the last period, I have a ton of work still ahead of me. Nevertheless, I am awarded a moment. It's almost exhale. Like I was holding my breath the entire time I was writing the story, hoping I'd be able to make it to the end. Then, when I do, I can breathe.

When I wrote the end of Severed, I had two moments. The first was weighed down by uncertainty. My exhale didn't feel like a relief or a prized moment. It felt shallow. I even thought to myself - is that it? Is that really the end? Am I supposed to feel like this? The answer felt like no, so I read the end again, I reworked it, and then it hit me. I was done. Except, my next exhale came with more accomplishment than I can remember feeling in a long time. 

I've published sixteen titles. Not one of them has taken me longer than three months to write. I remember working on Fool For You and thinking - my goodness, is this thing ever going to end? Even then, I justified the length of time it took me to write that particular novel because it was very long; twice the size of some of my shorter novels. Now, please don't take that information as some sort of passive aggressive pat on my own back. That's not what it is. I just need you to understand the context of my history and why the completion of Severed means so much to me.

It took me five months to write Cruiz and Hanna's story. In fact, given that I just spent this last week adding an entire chapter and a couple thousand more words I wasn't expecting, let's just round up and say it took me six months.

That's half the year. Half!

When I started this novel, I had a feeling it would take me longer than usual. This is the first piece I've written since I crashed and burned at the end of 2017. Also, I decided to write it in third person, which is a technique I haven't used since before I started publishing. I wanted to take my time. I didn't want to rush the story; but even more, I didn't want to rush myself. I wasn't going to force myself to write every day. I didn't want to force myself to reach a certain word count goal. Neither did I intend on forcing myself to spend a certain amount of time writing every time I sat down to do it. Even still, I never forecasted it would take me this long to write this book.

In the beginning, for the first two or three months, I panicked at how long it was taking me to get the story out. At around four months, I felt like I was close to the end, and I had accepted the pace at which I was working. Then I started interviewing for this new job, I got the job, I moved across the country for the job, and my slow pace got even slower. When I had a second to stop and get my bearings - when I realized I was in month five, and I wasn't even the same person I was when I started writing the novel, I was a little bit afraid the end of the book would not mesh well with the beginning. I was afraid I was too different; that I hadn't spent enough consistent time with my characters; that the editing process would be horrendous because I'd have to do open heart surgery on a story with a growth defect. Though, in spite of my fears, I kept writing until I found the end.

And then I read the story.
That, too, comes with its own unique feeling.

While I've published sixteen titles, I've written closer to thirty - and yet, the feeling I get when I read my book for the first time - start to finish - it never gets old. Never. Every single time, I'm amazed that the words I'm reading came out of my brain. Sometimes I think maybe someone invaded my body and wrote this completely awesome story while I was tucked away under lock and key in the back of my consciousness. It blows my mind. During my first read, I unashamedly pat myself on the back, completely impressed that I told a fully developed, engaging, well thought out novel.

Now, before you roll your eyes at me, rest assured that only happens during the first read. By the time I get to the third read, I think it's all absolute shit. On the fourth read, I wonder how there are still so many things wrong with it. Then, on the fifth read, I have to accept the fact that it'll never be perfect. Not ever. I just have to let it go. Luckily, you've caught me in a good moment. I've only read Severed once.

I loved it. It's far from perfect. The fact that I added a chapter speaks volumes. I'm not usually someone who adds a bunch after the initial draft is finished. I don't like to do that. I've done it once before, while I was writing Worthy of the Dissonance, but I like to be meticulously careful with my plot the first round. But this book was different. My journey with these characters has been unusual; and the circumstances under which this novel was written are what make me so proud of it.

I'm not going to lie to you. I hope my next novel doesn't take me six months to write. But if it does, it'll be because I've made room to be a writer who also has a life. Understanding balance has been a great lesson I've been learning whilst working on this project. I certainly haven't mastered it, but I'm doing a lot better. I've accepted my need for boundaries, and when I need to step away from my computer, I do - whether I've been writing for five minutes or five hours. You might not know or appreciate this truth just yet, but my ever evolving process matters to you as my reader, too. When I take my time, when I take care of myself, it makes my stories more precious.

Burn out is scary. It's scary because it made me feel numb. At the end of last year, there were so many things I was ready to just let go of. And I did. There are a number of things in the publishing process I used to care so much about; so many things that would stress me out or make me an ugly, judgy person - and I've chosen not to care about those things anymore. Some - if you knew the extent of my list - might think me unwise, but here's the thing, I'm not a quitter. What matters more to me than anything is getting to write. As hard as it was trudging my way through the last six months, I had a story to tell - a story I intend to share with you. If that means letting go of some things, I'm happy to be free of them so I can write.

So, funny story. This post turned out way differently than I was anticipating. But it's kind of perfect. Cruiz and Hanna's story turned out way differently than I was anticipating, too. In a good way. Their story challenged me. They pushed me as a writer. I would be lying if I told you I didn't ever want to give up on them, 'cause I did. Not because of their short comings, but my own. However, writing character driven fiction is my style - and since my characters come from the most stubborn part of me, I didn't quit. In fact, this story inspired the trajectory of R.C.'s focus for the next couple of years.

Did that last sentence spark a bit of intrigue? Good. Stay tuned.

Okay, so, before I sign off, how about a blurb reveal? Cheers!