To the question, ‘when is your next book coming out?’ Or the one that goes, ‘are you still writing?’ And of course the, ‘how is your first book doing?’ Well? The honest answers are, “I’m not sure” “Um….” And, “Okay?”
The better question should probably be, what happened with your writing? And THAT answer is…life. Life happened to my writing. And as is pretty common, life can be complicated.
Life got a little crazy the beginning of 2019 for me, and I found my brain-space for writing was taken over by pretty significant family needs. Then, of course, this thing that sorta rhymes with lame-demic swept in during 2020, and well…my writer brain did not recover. Not for the longest time. More accurately, not until a few weeks ago.
The funny thing is, I never actually ‘quit’ writing. I never made a conscious decision to stop. I thought about my stories daily. New story ideas were pondered. But my fingers rarely touched my keyboard over the past almost two years. (I could probably count the number of times on my two hands.) First I blamed my lack of writing on my editor leaving The Wild Rose Press. She was AMAZING for my book and me as a brand new writer, and her motivation pushed me forward, always. (Though, sad as I was, I totally understood her desire to pursue her own art!) Then I placated my guilt of not writing on my indecision of whether to self publish my next book or go traditional again. (Each time my agent asked about my next book, I hesitated. And when I did finally send her the first few chapters and she offered to rep it? I couldn’t bring myself to sign a contract and commit.)
And then reality hit. Probably one night at 2am. (It’s when reality usually strikes for this girl…) I had shut down. As a writer, that is. It wasn’t that I was choosing not to dip my toes into my ‘creative ocean,’ it was that I couldn’t. My brain-space was simply spent on family needs. You’d think this realization would eventually lead me to, ‘it’s okay! There is a season for everything! Your writing will always be there for you! Publishing is not a race!’ And it did…and didn’t. All around me, writers were putting out books through the pandemic WHILE homeschooling AND doing other full or part-time jobs. My feelings were, needless to say, complicated.
Which is life, right? Life is complicated. And sometimes messy. And for me, it snuffed out my ability to write for a season. And that is okay. It is. And it was. Did it alter my writing career? It definitely affected it, though, I think in a good way. (Absolutely in a growing way. And growth is always good!) Is there still some guilt? Who am I kidding, I’m Natalee…I seem unable to destroy it altogether, but I think I can now recognize it for what it is and shake it off most days. And I’m excited (no THRILLED) to be writing again. I’m dipping ALL the toes into my ocean of creativity, and I can’t wait to share my words again with you all.
As for those first few questions, the ones I often get asked, here are your answers. Yes! I’ve started writing again. No, I do not know when my next book is coming out, sorry! I’m still undecided on whether to self publish (romance does so well indie!) or to submit it to a publisher I met last year who has asked to see it. I love the idea of both, so I will continue to weigh my thoughts there, but I promise you’ll be the first to know when I have more concrete news. (Until then, you can see my current project, Playing it Tough, HERE! I love this book, y’all!) Lastly, my current book is doing okay. The funny thing about debut novels are, they do better the more books you put out. I’ve been happy with my release. I love Jase and Madison’s story. Theirs was the first story I ever wrote, and to have a first story published is a dream.
To all of you who have had to shift focus for certain seasons of your life, I feel you. I hear you. And I applaud you for pushing through the crazy and the guilt and even the emptiness that can come from the reality that we can’t always do it all, even if it seems like others around us can. Here is to future seasons!
Cheers & love!