Write what you know.
Pretty solid advice.
Except when what you know is stuff you'd rather you didn't.
Write what scares you.
Another nice one. Taking risk. Facing fears.
Except when you've faced them before and what you fear most is having to face them again.
Write what you don't know.
Flip it. Explore. Learn. Research. Imagine.
Except when things you don't know can only be known by experiencing them.
So...what do I write? I write what I want.
I write about the stuff I know, but wish I didn't. I write about loss. Heartache, Death. Abuse. Addiction. Grief. And then, I write about what I want instead.
In Lost Avalon I took on several battles at once. Addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. All things I've experienced up close and personal. The number of people I have loved in my life who battled one or the other, or all of the above, is higher than I care to count to. And not all of them made it through to the other side in one piece. Some of them are still waging war with their demons. Some, I've had to let go to keep from drowning myself. Others I've clung to with my life, because life wouldn't be acceptable without them in it.
Then, I took on the task of fixing everything I couldn't in real life. Healing hurts. Mending hearts. Making what was broken whole again. I took what I knew and turned it into what I wanted.
I write what scares me. Being alone. Falling in love. Letting down those who depend on me most. Being abandoned. And then, I write about what I want instead.
I'm scared of a lot. It doesn't slow me down in life, but seriously, I'm a chickenshit. And this is VERY apparent in my work. More so than even I realized. Especially this little issue I have called 'fear of commitment'. Wasn't until one of my beta readers, who happens to know me quite well in real life, was like, 'hey, what's up with all the female characters always bolting? Is that something you do in relationships?' Why...yes, I do believe it is.
Love kinda scares the crap out of me. Well, maybe not love as such, but the side effects of love. Being left. Being cheated on. Being mistreated. Being abused. Being all wrong for someone. Being hurtful because I've been hurt. Being unlovable. Being unloved...forever. Just to name a few. And to be fair, I have pretty good reasons to worry about all of those. But...I face those fears on paper. So, while writing romance novels may not seem all that scary to most, frankly, it scares the shit out of me.
Until...I write my happy endings. Because in fiction, when my character bolts...someone runs after her. When someone mistreats her or abuses her, someone else steps in to protect her. And when she lashes out and gets mean because she's terrified and hurt, someone comes along to hold her tight and never let go. I take what I fear...and I turn it into what I want.
I write what I don't know. And let's face it. I don't know a LOT!
I don't know squat about being a pirate or living on a sail boat, but I wrote about it. I've never been to jail. Never designed wedding dresses for a living, and I don't recall ever driving a food truck or managing a rock band - all but maybe one of those, would have been awesome though! But, all of those were fairly easy to research...and b.s. my way through when needed.
Then, it came time to write Secret Hudson and I almost lost my ever-loving mind. How could I possibly do justice to an experience I knew NOTHING about? I've never been bullied, well, not publicly anyway. And, you know...I'm not gay. Two MAJOR life experiences I've been completely untouched by. Writing Hudson's side was a bit easier. I've been someone's secret (Not in the way you're thinking!) and I hated that shit, too. But I put up with it because his problems were bigger than mine. Same as Hudson. But Royce? Holy crap. I couldn't even begin to put myself in his shoes. But...I knew people who could. Who'd worn them. Who'd walked their entire lives in them. And I thought of them as I wrote and I did my best to do right by their stories.
Because writing what you can't even begin to imagine, while hard for the writer, is that much harder on the reader. I can ALWAYS tell when someone writing about death in some way, has NEVER experienced it. And it bugs me. A lot. The last thing I want to do, is diminish or taint someone else's feelings or struggles in life by making a farce of the whole thing. But...it's important to stretch and grow and venture into these uncharted territories when we write. And I want to. So I do. I write what I don't know but want to.
Writing about these experiences and then making them fictional is my way of taking what has been unbearable in my life and making it survivable. Taking tragedy and giving it a happy ending, even if in real life, it never came...or simply hasn't come yet. It's therapeutic. It's healing. And, it's my way of being a part of the world, even when I'm too shy to walk out of my own front door sometimes.
So, if you ever wonder...if any of my books are about me. The answer is simple. Yes. They all are. In some way, shape or form, a piece of my soul is forever woven into the words of each single story I write. Usually it's obvious...my love for coffee. My history in the bar business. My love for horses and dogs. My life as a single mother. But other times, it's not. Thing is though, it's the times you're reading and probably least expect it to be true, that it actually is.