On Writing: Don't Cut Corners, Don't Lose Patience, Don't Sell Yourself Short
So Forbidden Fruit, originally released by Noble Romance Publishing in 2011, remains one of my most-searched stories. It’s the one I get questioned about more than any—though a few titles have been unavailable for a couple months. And truly, I didn’t intend for the story to be in limbo as long as it’s been. When the rights were returned to me in September 2013, I had plans of re-releasing it within a couple months. I wasn’t happy with the story. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, and I certainly thank those of you who did. It sold really well—before Firsts was re-released, Forbidden Fruit was easily my highest seller. I really looked forward to those royalty statements. It was a fluff story at the core, short, raunchy, and fun.
So what happened?
Here’s the thing about me: aside from the fact that I like to George Lucas Stephen King/J.R. Tolkien my work (by revisiting, revamping, and re-releasing), it took a couple years and a lot of missteps to learn patience. I had a book done, I wanted it out. Yesterday.
Well, some things happened in 2012 that taught me a Very Important Lesson™. Work changed. My life changed. Everything changed. And I became very aware that a lot of what I had out…well, I found acceptable rather than yay, I wrote this! The things that weren’t good were probably only noticeable to me, but that was enough. If it’s only acceptable to me as the creator, I still have work to do.
I always want better.
That’s why I added onto Firsts. Why I expanded Lost Wages of Sin. Why I can’t seem to stop from revisiting those books and novellas that came out when I was green and doing my best to get it quick instead of getting it right.
I’ve said it numerous times, but it bears repeating: I write first for me. Now, I love it (and I mean love it) when my writing finds an audience, when a reader connects with my characters and world, when they see things I didn’t or picked up on the things I really wanted to shine. It’s a feeling unlike anything else. But when it’s a story I’m proud of—really proud of—it’s that amazing feeling times infinity. And as more of my works come out of contract, I think it’s important that I feel really proud of everything to which I attach my name. From the huge, complex worlds like Lucifer and Big J’s to the small, sexy stand-alones like Forbidden Fruit. As an author, I must live up to my own standards before I can be satisfied. I owe it to myself, and quite frankly, I owe it to my readers.
With Forbidden Fruit, I could have put it up without touching the content. It was a high seller. But I wasn’t proud of it. So I started to revise it so I could get it where I wanted…and I got stuck almost immediately. I’ve also learned the art of choosing my moment to work on any given story. So every few months, I’d take it off the shelf, look at where I left off, and add a couple hundred words. But the drive to really work on it wasn’t there, and I didn’t want to force it.
Well, I don’t know what the hell happened, but I’m reasonably confident Forbidden Fruit is close to re-release. It’s at least close to being complete; I’ll need to reread it, then send it to my editor for her thoughts, but I imagine it’ll be back on e-book shelves by August. I only have three scenes to add, and the characters are being chatty, so I hope to have them added over the weekend.
So what have we learned, class?
If you know you haven’t done your best work, you’re not done. Learn patience, grasshopper. I promise, once the project is done—and I mean really done—trust me, you’ll know the difference.