December 2020 was a very unexpected season of learning for me. If you followed me on Instagram back then, you probably saw that I finally, finally finished drafting something brand-new for the first time in a year.
Yet I was never satisfied with that book. In fact, it was a BIG eye-opener for me. I realized that I'd taken in a lot of content both fictional and from the world around me that had an impact on my writing voice...and not in a good way at all. While I do love exploring new themes and I never want to stagnate or become too repetitive, there's a certain "me-factor" in all my best books that I found notably absent in that new novel; and though I think it's totally okay to write things outside our nine dots, I felt uncomfortable looking back at that project, like I'd unknowingly sold a piece of myself away and I only saw it once I saw what my story looked like on the page. In fact, I couldn't bring myself to share it with anyone. I was ashamed of it. Ashamed of its contents and its messages.
That story wasn't me, and I definitely knew I needed to take a step back! I went to explore some of my older projects that were more "me"; I also changed some of the content I'm taking in for a more positive vibe. I feel like a lot - a LOT - of mainstream books these days, ESPECIALLY in YA, are very gritty and dark and a little even hopeless or sad, and that stuff REALLY gets to me. So I'm having to be careful of that. And mostly I'm just trying to take in the positive and avoid the negative for a bit - that includes fiction, news, and everything else!
But that shift wasn't enough. For two months after finishing that book, I had this crawling sense deeper under my skin that something was wrong. I had part of the answer, but not all of it. Finally, in mid-February 2021, I spent two days deep in prayer about my writing. Like, praying so hard my head hurt. And finally last night, I got my answer - a realization of where I let something infiltrate the playground of my imagination all the way back in January 2020, and it never really went away. It touched everything I wrote since. It altered my creativity and tainted my work. My divine spark dimmed.
It wasn't just the content I'd imbued from fiction, news, etc. It was something inside me I had to root out. And not slowly - but PRONTO.
So I took time going back and fixing things that carried that mark in STARCHASER'S later books.
Oh. And I deleted that entire manuscript - the one that was the only thing I finished in 2020.
Now, THAT hurt in the moment. But I felt, and still feel, lSO PEACEFUL about it. I now see the boundaries I need to hold going forward, which may make me unpopular in some ways. But I made a promise to God a long time ago about how I was going to do things if He gave me this chance to get my books out in the world. I broke that promise for a while. Now I'm finding my way back and letting Him handle the rest.
What's been incredible to me is not just the peace I feel about my business, but the doors of opportunity that have opened since. Huge doors I'd prayed and hoped about but felt stifled on. Cleaning house of invaders allowed amazing things to come in that I've been wanting but feared to move on for so long! For the first time in forever, I felt that spark rekindle. I know what I'm doing - following His lead again like I should've done all along.
So if there's something YOU know deep down you need to confront to move forward...do it. Even if it hurts. Set boundaries, make changes, cut whole manuscripts. It may hurt in the moment, but if it's the right step, it's worth the pain every time. And while I can't guarantee stories that are always bright and cheerful or don't have sad moments, I CAN swear to you all I'm going back to my roots - which is ultimately hope. Stories of hope and triumph and victory. That's what I'm bringing to the table again, and I can't wait to share those kinds of stories with you all!