“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
Being a writer is a wonderful thing. It’s a chance to lose yourself in other worlds, to tell the stories inside your head and heart, to learn about your characters and to learn from your characters. I know I talk about this all the time, but truly, there is nothing like the experience of falling in love with a new story. It’s like taking flight with a butterfly that carries the most pure, fluttery joy on its wings. And how lucky are we to be filled with that joy once, let alone multiple times? I think that’s one of the neatest parts about writing: how there is always another opportunity waiting around the bend, just waiting for us to pick up our pens, to open up our Word documents, and give breath to it. This month marks six years since the day I sat down at the computer and started writing what I honestly thought would be a short story. Now, hundreds of thousands of words later, I think back on that time with such a smile, with such warm fuzzies. If you had told me then that I’d write five full novels over the span of the next several years, I’d probably have laughed until my sides hurt. But I have. I’ve gotten to know five casts of characters, gotten to immerse myself in five book-babies, gotten to discover five novels that have become such an intrinsic part of who I am.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe. Each time I finish a book, I wonder – is there enough room in my heart for another one? Will the walls stretch a little further? Will the crevices widen to accommodate new characters and new journeys? Often I worry that the answer is no. And always I have been proven wrong. When I sat down this past February to begin SANDS OF TIME, I didn’t know what to expect. After all, my previous three novels had been about the same family. Sofie, Brandon, Ellie, Addilyn, and Jordan … they were like my friends. I loved them dearly, and it felt strange at first, so very strange, to be telling someone else’s story. But then a funny thing happened. I wrote Remi’s first chapter, then Charlotte’s. And instantly that concern spiraled away. Instantly these MCs intertwined themselves with me. Instantly this project became more near and dear than words can express. I’ve mentioned before that writing SANDS OF TIME was a unique kind of experience, one so overflowing with happiness and love that it once again has me thinking I won’t be able to replicate it this next time around.
Maybe that’s true. I know many authors say they can’t choose a favorite book, that it would be akin to picking a favorite child. Aren’t there exceptions to that rule, though? I’m not saying every book isn’t special in its own way. They are. When I look back at my own novels, I am inordinately grateful for having experienced every one. Each has been a light in my life. Each has taught me, helped me, molded me, inspired me in different ways. But if you asked me now to name a favorite or two, I could do it. And so, as I leap into planning for my next book, I can’t help wondering: after SOT made me fall in love with writing all over again, what will this project offer? It has some pretty big shoes to fill. Or does it? Perhaps, instead of comparing it to what came before, I should be offering it some shoes of its own. Because every book is unique, and that’s a good thing. It’s a lovely thing.
Will Eden – my new MC – become as special to me as Remi and Charlotte? As Sofie? I don’t know yet. But what I am sure of is this: I am so enjoying getting to know her. She’s told me a lot about her story so far and I’m genuinely excited to learn more. Planning a new novel is always one of my absolute favorite parts of the process. Everything is so shiny, so hopeful, so glistening with the luminance of a thousand fireflies. It’s like being Pandora, about to open the box and watch its contents spring up to greet you. I’ve only been working on this next book for a week, so there’s still a long way to go, but I’m starting to feel that anticipation bubble up. I’m starting to get those flashes of inspiration when I least expect them – because isn’t that how it always goes? – and I’m starting to imagine how the scenes will unfold. In a way, this book is going to play off of SOT. Remi and Charlotte get to have an important role, and I won’t lie, I cannot wait to write about them again. But I’m also looking forward to writing about Eden. I’m looking forward to visiting with a whole other group of people. Something tells me they have new lessons to teach.
There are always more questions than answers when embarking on a book journey, but this I know for sure: no two paths are the same, and they shouldn’t be. And wherever this one leads … well, I will be glad to follow. I will be glad to make room in my heart for more.