This week marks the fourth anniversary of launching the blog.
Firstly, to all of my readers, new and old, whether you’ve dropped in only on occasion or swing by every week to check out the latest posts, thank you. I cannot begin to describe how happy it makes me to log in and see that a new post of mine is getting views or being re-shared on social media. I find I’m hardly ever really sure how a post is going to do, so it’s always exciting when things go well.
Throughout 2022, I’ve posted about a variety of topics, some writing-centered including a series on tenses in fiction, whether or not to include prologues and epilogues, and some posts about blogging itself. Then there were posts about other things, like what made the quarry such a fun game from a storytelling perspective and going to soundcheck at a 5 Seconds of Summer show.
But there is one thing I scarcely touch on when it comes to the blog: my books.
One would think that as a writer, I’d be all about writing about my WIPs, sharing character bios or fun facts about the story and posting more updates.
But I haven’t been.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single particular reason. It’s a matter of several things, actually.
Today’s post is a check-in of sorts with myself, to explore some of the reasons I hold off from blogging about my books.
Let's get to it.
I Haven’t Been Writing
For much of this year, I haven’t been able to focus on my fiction. There’s the time factor between taking on full-time hours at the now-former day job and medical stuff going on. Most of my writing happens on my lunch break and tends to be for the blog.
This distance has made it hard to talk about my books with the enthusiasm I had back in high school or in college. Though still certainly my dearest passion, writing as a whole has been shoved to the back burner.
It's hard to describe the feeling. A combination of melancholy and regret, burnout, and disappointment in myself because I'm not meeting the goals I set for myself, almost on the verge of shame. And in some ways, it feels like I've lost a part of my identity because I'm not working on my books. Writing is such a central part of who I am, but my stories have fallen to the wayside in the bustle of life.
I’m still reckoning with creative burnout that’s made worse by a feeling of guilt after shelving the novel I started working on when I was fourteen.
And that right there is the first time I’ve really admitted to setting that project aside.
I feel like I should be able to push through the guilt and just forge on ahead because writing has always been my favorite thing to do, but I instead find myself floating in limbo, staring at a blank page.
If feels inauthentic of me to be writing about my stories when I haven't been working on them.
But time is not the only thing that's been holding me back from writing about my books.
Imposter syndrome is a topic I've circled back to frequently over the past few months. To recap, it's that feeling that you are not qualified or knowledgeable enough to be talking about a particular topic.
And for me, that topic is writing.
On the occasions I've tried to blog about my books, I hold myself back. There are the self-doubting questions that come up when I start any post, is anyone going care about this or read it? and do I really know what I'm talking about here?, but those are amplified when it comes to blogging about my fiction.
You'll sometimes hear writing described as an apprenticeship or an art in which there are no masters, only students. That has a lot to do with the fluid nature of the art. Every writer's process is unique to them and is constantly evolving. Every new story idea, every draft and round of edits, every publication day has its own lessons to teach and helps shape the way we tell our stories. There is no single, right way.
I know this. Yet, somehow, I hold myself back from talking about my WIPs on the blog because I doubt myself.
This could be attributed to the fact that I haven't published any of my fiction. That tends to be one of the first people ask me when I mention I write, after all. And I always feel like they're judging me for it, even if it's asked out of genuine curiosity or a desire to read my work.
In not having anything published, I feel like I have nothing to show for my writing. No tangible proof that I have the knowledge expected of someone writing about writing.
Do you have to be published to call yourself a writer? Absolutely not. A writer writes, and that is that.
However, not having any of my fiction published causes me to worry that it will come across as pretending to have a grasp on things. That I'm just the imposter among professionals. So I hold myself back.
Imposter syndrome is a never-ending battle for me.
The Constant Of Change And Unhatched Eggs
With all of my fiction works lingering between vague idea, first draft, and editing hell, nothing about my fiction is set in stone.
I swear my finger is going to rub the letters off the backspace key one of these days. Lines of dialogue are being rewritten. Scenes are cut left and right. New things are being added as old ones are reworked.
No less than a week ago did a change one of Zach's brother's names for the umpteenth time.
Change is constant. It's how our stories truly begin to take shape.
With my WIPs not having yet reached their final forms, however, it can seem a little too early to be going into significant detail about them because they're not finalized.
Premature celebration happens to the best of us. We think something went well, only for us to realize we counted our chickens before they hatched.
It sounds kind of silly, but I've hesitated to blog about my books because I don't want to make promises I can't keep. By this, I mean hyping up a scene only for it to be taken out later down the line.
Readers typically don't place such an importance on deleted scenes and accept the story as it is. There may be elements they wish were expanded upon or handled differently but, for the most part, they don't place the same importance on what almost was.
And yet I worry that someone familiar with my blog would be wondering where that scene about my protagonist shaving went or what happened to the conversation between the mother-daughter duo in the former prologue, in turn affecting their experience reading the novel.
In the grand scheme of things, these little bits are inconsequential. That's why they were taken out of Bound to the Heart in the first place—yes, there was once a scene of Zach shaving and going through his morning routine and basically nothing at all relevant to the story happening. Or those scenes were reworked, as is the case with a conversation between Eve and Mrs. Chavasse that was originally a prologue-ish first chapter, still there but moved to a later section.
Admitting to these changes, small as they are, is a tad embarrassing. It's like admitting to a mistake or failure because you didn't get it right the first time. Which is silly because it's writing. It's not going to be perfect the first time around. That's why we have backspace keys and erasers and white-out. We make mistakes. We take chances. We get messy.
That's the beauty of it.
If all goes well, far more people are going to read my works than a small team of beta readers and my loved ones, and I'm guessing that they will not care as much as I do about this cut content. And if they do, it might be an example of how far my writing and the story has come. And we can all laugh at how I thought a scene centered on a bare-chested Zach getting ready for work was sensible back in the day.
That nagging feeling of unhatched eggs pecks at my brain all the while, though, and I sadly don't expect it to go away anytime soon.
This last reason for not blogging about my books also extends to social media, specifically when it comes to posting snippets of my writing online.
In many of the writing chats I participate in, the hosts often invite you to share a sample of your WIP based on a prompt. For a romance-centric chat, this might be a kiss scene you're proud of, or you may be challenged to post a line of yours that has the word storm in it. It creates a space for sharing what we're working on, forming connections within the writing community, and getting feedback if you ask for it (though unsolicited advice and uninvited critiques can definitely happen).
Early on, I vacillated between posting a line from my WIP or refraining because I would end up comparing myself to other chat participants. Impostor syndrome would rear its ugly head—you get the idea.
One of the few times I did take part in this part of the chat, though, things took an unexpected turn.
I received a DM from another chat participant informing me that they had known someone who also posted a snippet of their writing project online and had it stolen, so they advised me to remove my post before I experienced the same. They recommended I wait until certain copyrights and other matters were established for security purposes. That way, in the event someone did steal what I had written, I had more proof it was mine.
Though this individual was kind in their phrasing and seemed to be acting with good intentions, it set me on edge.
One person's comments would not be enough for me to shift gears under most circumstances, but other things popping up had me extra wary.
At the time of this DM hitting my inbox, several authors were sharing that they had discovered their books were plagiarized and some had been made available for free by pirating sites. Additionally, a few bloggers were sharing their experiences with their posts being copied without permission or proper credit and sharing screenshots of exchanges between those platforms trying to have the situation rectified.
As someone who blogs and writes fiction with the intention of publishing it someday, having all of this occurring within the same week made me especially worried about posting sample of my WIPs on any platform.
Nowadays, when I participate in writing chats, I'll only give a brief overview of a scene that fits the prompt or skip the question if it's asking for a passage instead of posting the screenshot. When it comes to the blog, I end up getting more vague than I likely need to.
A writer's blog is usually meant to be a place to share their projects, to intrigue and excite their future readers about the books they will one day hold in their hands.
By limiting how much I'm sharing, I'm unable to create these connections with my audience. I can post a hundred tips and tricks for writing, but that won't provide that taste of my writing. And without that, how can I truly invite readers into my stories?
I have to find that balance between sharing too much and keeping too much close to my chest.
As we enter 2023, one of my main goals is to reclaim my relationship with writing. I want to settle back into the groove of things and rediscover the spark in each of my projects.
But, more importantly, I want to be more transparent about my process.
Social media in general is flooded with success stories and folks who have it made. We rarely see what it took to get them there or what things look like behind the scenes. There's a pressure to put on this show and present ourselves as if everything were sparkly clean and sunshine, but it's often messy and thundering.
I want to embrace all the nitty, gritty, and even shitty details.
And that includes my fiction.
So expect more character bios and story updates, good and bad. My check-ins might be quarterly instead of twice per year. I might do WIP-related Q&As based around what my fellow writers want to know, or share some of the ways these stories have changed since their conception.
2023 feels like the start of a new era for the blog and my books, and I cannot wait to see where it leads.