I started writing stories when I was five. Writing became my escape, and sometimes my salvation. At times during junior high and high school, writing was the only thing that kept me going; if I hadn’t been able to create worlds where I didn’t have to deal with bullying and a difficult family life, I might not be around today. The same was true when I was married to my ex-husband. During all that time, nearly everything I wrote was for kids or teens. I wrote one novel for adults, which I don’t even have anymore and wasn’t all that good, and that was a completely G-rated thing.
When my friend in 2006 challenged me to write something erotic to help me overcome my belief that sex was a pretty crappy thing in general and especially in my life, everything started to change. A guy I dated a year later challenged me to write more, and to post on Literotica. And I kept writing, and kept posting.
And then I got published.
Being published isn’t a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong. But unfortunately, it added stress and pressure to something that up to that point had been relaxing and soothing. I wasn’t able anymore to just create things and abandon them at will, or write something no one would ever want to see without caring whether anyone saw it. I had to please editors, publishers, and readers.
Apparently I didn’t do such a great job at that. A number of my books barely sold, and if I remember right, two or three didn’t sell a single copy. Even though I was backed by publishers who were, in theory, pushing the books right along with me. That added to the stress and pressure. I had to write more and better so I would earn money and not piss off my publishers.
Then September 20, 2014 happened. I won’t go into details about it, though I think I have done elsewhere. Suffice it to say someone I trusted and was in a relationship with did something unforgivable that both triggered and added to my PTSD…and suddenly I was almost back to where I was in 2006 before that friend challenged me to write that first erotic story. And I’ve been there ever since. My two attempts after that at writing a new erotic romance resulted in panic attacks, worsened depression, and a decision that I had to step back whether I wanted to or not, for the sake of my mental health.
One piece of wisdom about writing and publishing is that in order to have consistent sales, you have to have consistent releases. I haven’t. My last release under this pen name was in March of this year, though it was written two years earlier, and that, judging from my royalty statements, has barely sold a double-digit number of copies. Meanwhile, nearly half the books that I’d had published in the past have been taken out of publication over the past year, either by me or by the publisher, all due to lack of sales.
I’m not posting this to whine or look for sympathy. My books are good, or so I’m told. Some of them have interesting plots and characters. They simply aren’t being bought and read for whatever reason. It’s discouraging. Seriously discouraging. I wish I understood what magical ingredients I’m missing that have brought me to this point, but I don’t, and no one I’ve discussed it with seems able to enlighten me.
As I announced recently, over the next two years I’ll be self-publishing some of those reverted titles, and I have a novel releasing from DSP Publications in March 2016. Last week, I finished writing my first erotica story in over a year, so apparently I can still write it… but I’m feeling so down about how things have been going that I’m not sure there’s much point. And most of the publishers that have accepted my books in the past either wouldn’t be willing to work with me now, or I wouldn’t be willing to work with them, or both, so even if I wrote something I wouldn’t have anywhere to send it.
Every career has its ups and downs. I think creative careers hit harder on the downs because we put so much of ourselves into the work. I know that’s been true for me with writing.