Welcome to part four of my big announcement series. This is the day I've really been looking forward to. Today, I'm going to share my inspiration behind starting over. Not the why, I've already covered that. Not the how, that's coming tomorrow. But the what–what was so inspiring I felt the need to start over, what types of books will I be writing now, what will I be incorporating from my old writing styles and themes, and, okay, one how, how I got where I am today.
For those of you who may have missed the first few posts in this series, you are welcome to start with this one, or you may want to go back and read some of the others. I began with a post entitled, “Embracing the New Me.” Next, I continued the discussion by deconstructing the bad choices (and the good ones) I’ve made thus far in my writing career. Those two posts are called, “Learning from My Mistakes” and “Learning from My Triumphs.”
And now here we are today… But first I need to back pedal a little.
I used to be a writing tornado, then life changed when I got pregnant in February of 2013. I no longer had the energy or motivation to work more than I had to. I mean, I was absolutely exhausted! Then came the pregnancy-induced OCD (which I didn't even know was a thing!) that wreaked havoc with my mind. Even when I carved out huge chunks of time with zero distractions and made clear, easy goals, I still couldn't write. Energy levels remained a problem, but the bigger problem became the darkness of the two books I was attempting to write (Pitch and Skinny-Dipping at Dawn). I'd break down in tears or have nightmares each time I made an attempt.
I just couldn't do it anymore.
And that was a major bummer, since dark, unexpected twists, characters, and endings were kind of my thing. It was at that point, I started privately telling anyone with any sort of vested interest in my writing career that I probably would give it up altogether in favor of motherhood–that anything that took me away from my to-be-born child for so much of the day must clearly be selfish and wrong.
I was rationalizing. The inspiration was gone, the motivation was gone, and I felt guilty. So instead, I made myself feel like I was doing something good and heroic, and I remained convinced for months.
Occasionally, I would miss writing. Inspiration or longing would take hold, and I'd try to write–only to face the same issues of tears, nightmares, and an overwhelming lack of motivation.
In December, while still on maternity leave and waiting to hear back about whether I'd received my current job (It was a looooong wait, mind you, and I am not the most patient person in the world), I decided to try really, really hard to get back into the craft and to do so productively.
I spent an entire day cleaning cobwebs and moving boxes around our basement and set-up a homey little writer's retreat for myself. I purchased an app that completely blocked Internet access and asked my readers to hold me accountable. I even installed a fancy progress widget on my old website, and it is still there, advertising how quickly I gave up on that particular plan.
The big problem was that I had returned to Pitch, a novel that I'd found uninspiring for months. I felt I owed it to my readers who had followed along with the series, but I had also waited almost 2 years since the release of book #2 and still hadn't even finished a quarter of the first draft.
This is when I started to think about starting over–just before Christmas. What if I try writing something new? Of course, I thought I could use the new project to keep me inspired, while still working away at the old one.
I proceeded to wrack my brain for days, weeks, trying to think of the perfect idea to renew my zeal for the craft. I tried so, so hard that I created a dam. The ideas just wouldn't come.
Eventually, I stopped trying, accepted my new job, and went to work. By early February, I had given up on the craft again. “Isn't it great,” I told Falcon, “that my job offers a great creative outlet? I don't even need writing anymore. I am fulfilled.”
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.
While I love my daughter, love my job, love many aspects of my life, I just can't quit writing. When would I learn that?
The answer to that question, apparently, was early March. Yes, I made the decision to become myself, to become Melissa Storm, and start a whole new kind of writing career… last week. I then went out and built this website, started this series, and plotted my upcoming books and marketing plan.
The motivation was THAT strong.
It started with a somewhat silly idea for a romance series called “Binky's Bridesmaids.” I wrote a little on my lunch break at work, and I had fun with it… but still something didn't feel right. Instead of giving up and descrying the craft altogether, I decided to think it through.
Why had I been attracted to this romance idea? What about it did I find so appealing?
The answer was that it revolved heavily around friendships between women and it was a feel good kind of thing. I knew writing it would make me happy.
I realized there were more questions to ask, so I sat down with Falcon and created a worksheet.
- Write down 5 story ideas
- Identify the common themes
- List adjectives that describe what you want to write
- List things you do not want to include in your fiction
- Identify other movies and books that you'd be proud to have written
This exercise was amazingly helpful. I'd only filled out 3/4 of a piece of a white paper, and my entire outlook changed!
Some of the things I wrote down as common themes were: love is powerful, love supersedes the ordinary, love realizes potential, strong women, creative energy, light speculative, Phoenix could read these stories at a relatively young age
Where I truly surprised myself is in detailing what I didn't want to include in my writing: graphic sex scenes, overly flawed characters, depressing endings, cliche/forgettable story lines and characters, swearing/ foul language
Coming up with 5 story ideas was easy when I told myself it was just for this worksheet. I formed them all during my morning commute and dutifully wrote them down on the paper at the beginning of this exercise. Of the five, there were two I just couldn't get out of my head, one about a single mother who falls in love with the doctor who delivered her baby and one about the Angel of Death who falls in love with a woman he's sent to kill.
The angel one really stuck with me.
I started to build a world for my angel. I did some research on the various choirs and mentions of angels in the Bible. I thought about how other cultures and religions viewed the after life and how those beliefs meshed or didn't mesh with Christianity. As I followed these jack rabbit thoughts, characters, worlds, systems, and stories began to form in my mind.
Oh, I was excited.
Now, the logical side of me knew I couldn't commit to yet another series, especially after having abandoned Farsighted. But the emotional, impassioned side knew my idea was much bigger than this one story about this one character, who just happened to be the Angel of Death.
What about a series that takes place in the same world, but without repeating characters or building upon old story lines? Yes, that was most definitely it.
Now, I had all kinds of ideas buzzing around my brain, and the idea for “The Pearl Makers” was officially born.
To explain the title, I need to give you a glimpse of the mythology I've created. I also need to answer one very important question: Is this Christian fiction?
The answer: Sort of, but not really.
Yes, the books will be devoid of sex and swearing. Yes, the angels are good and pure beings whose main objective is to help humanity, and, yes, God is referenced in the books when relevant.
However… My representation of angels is not strictly Biblical. In fact, I've integrated other belief systems, such as reincarnation, and eliminated both Satan and Hell.
In my Universe, there are 5 types of beings: God, Angels, Old Souls, New Souls, and Pearls.
Pearls are people who have passed through the Pearly Gates, who have learned all of life's lessons and are ready to take up residence in Heaven. Angels are called “Pearl Makers,” because it is there job to help humans reach Heaven. Old Souls have lived lives before and are going back down to Earth for another try. New Souls are getting their first chance. That's it.
Of course, I have a much more intricate system than this, but I'll save it for the books.
As much as the Angel of Death inspired me, I am not starting with his story. First, I will write “Diving for Pearls,” which will be a hybrid short story series/ novel serialization and which I plan to offer to readers for free (much more on this marketing/ publishing plan in tomorrow's blog post, so be sure to come back then!).
Diving for Pearls tells the story of Elizabeth, a woman who dies in child birth before the story even begins. One of the rules of my universe is that a human who dies via self sacrifice is turned into a protector (more commonly known as a “guardian”) angel rather than being forced into another life as a human. Elizabeth is assigned to watch over the daughter she never met, who is named Daisy. If she can help Daisy make good life choices and become a Pearl, the two will be able to live together in Heaven. But first, Elizabeth must watch her daughter grow up from afar.
This story is for Phoenix, and I hope it will show her that a mother's–her mother's–love knows no boundaries. I want my daughter to know I will always be there for her, and, yeah, I'd like for her to believe in angels.
Well, that’s it for today. How do you find inspiration? Has a story ever surprised you by taking hold and refusing to be ignored? And do you believe in angels?
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read about my new marketing and publishing plans. I think they're pretty nifty!
Other posts in this series will include:
- Embracing the New Me: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part I
- Learning from My Mistakes: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part II
- Learning from My Triumphs: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part III
- Finding Inspiration: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part IV
- Moving Forward: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part V