Hi Everyone! Today is the first of what I’m hoping will be a somewhat regular feature–the Keep Going Series. This isn’t exactly an original idea–a while back, some authors were posting their stories on Twitter, but I thought is was a great idea. An important idea. The first author brave enough to talk about the moment she almost quit is Emery Lord. Her debut OPEN ROAD SUMMER is out April 15, 2014, but today I have an ARC I’ll be sending to one lucky commenter. But first, a little about the book: After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
Sounds awesome, right? That’s because it is! I asked Emery to tell us about a time that she almost gave up writing, when the going got tough and she almost stopped. What made her keep going? And what happened because she did?
Here’s what Emery had to say: This is what I tell myself at the close of one year and the start of a next: some years are character development, and some years are plot. And 2010? It was my ultimate character development year.
That’s the year I almost gave up on writing–before even querying or submitting to publishers. In fact, I hadn’t even finished my first draft of my first YA novel. I was 23 then. I was working long hours at my day job. I was trying to figure out how to be a grownup–how to keep up my house and pay bills and buy groceries and somehow fit in exercise and a social life.
At its best, writing felt like my own special nook–a place I loved and belonged. At its worst, writing felt like a stupid use of time for an already-exhausted person. Awake at 6AM, work from 8-5, dinner around 6, at my computer from 7-midnight, repeat. I was neglecting my boyfriend and my friends and, frankly, myself.
So, one especially overtired night, I started thinking that life would be so much easier if I just…wasn’t chasing down this dream. I walked away from my open Word document. I curled into fetal position on our bed and said to my boyfriend, though hiccupy tears: I can’t keep doing this.
(Sometimes it’s not the big rejections that crush you. It’s the little, everyday difficulties that compound.)
But I could keep doing it. And I did.
Because something else was happening in 2010: I was grieving, in a way that felt bottomless, after several losses shook my life. I couldn’t quite put words to feelings at the time, but now I can: I had fallen out of love with the world.
So I wrote fiction, creating a world I had control of. It took up all of my mindspace. The words flew off the keyboard, like a forcefield beating back the darkness. My very own Patronus, if you will. (And you will, because YA is your nook too.)
This is, ultimately, why I didn’t quit: because contemporary YA is one of the great loves of my life. I crawled inside that happy place and held on for dear life.
I drew OPEN ROAD SUMMER from things that made me happiest to focus on, the things that filled me up: road-tripping and best friends and music, bantering and making out and small-town Fourth of July festivals, near-misses and forgiveness and having the backbone to walk away.
And, in April this year, it will be a physical thing, on bookshelves: the very experience that helped me fall in love with the world again. If you’re a writer, I’m sure you’ve felt tired, rejected and dejected, pushed to the brink for a dream. Ready to walk away because it can be draining and emotional, this art which requires so much of your soul. But, when the work–the actual writing–is your happy place, that’s a dream come true in itself.
If you’ve found what you love, you owe it to yourself to hang on for dear life. It’s not about the publication path. It’s about YOU–the time you spend with yourself and your imagination and your computer, putting your guts into something real, about staying up late and your playlists and seeing it through and the fact that you carved a home for yourself where there was once nothing. The fact that you’re writing something that no one else ever has or ever could write exactly the way you did.
The truth is, every writer has said: I can’t keep doing this. It’s the choices you make after that count.
Okay, ready for the giveaway? In the comments, tell us about a summer where you made a choice that made all the difference. Don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact the winner.
Check back on Feb 12th to see if you’ve won! (US shipping only)
|Lisa Maxwell is the author of SWEET UNREST (Flux, Fall 2014). When she’s not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys. You can find her on Twitter @lisamaxwellya most days.|