Writing "The Reluctant Cowboy" was no rodeo
Every time I write ANYTHING, there's a moment of trepidation. A blank page and cursor sit in front of me as I wait. Then I remember it's my job to add the words; it's my job to create something; it's my job to tell a story.
Why do I do this to myself?
It's scary, as much as is it liberating, to put words to the page. Mad props to each and every soul who does it--who creates anything. Maybe I'm a little too Type A; maybe I'm scared of the inevitable hours of work I'm embarking on; maybe I'm just too dang proud to give up on the little girl I once was, who promised herself that if there was a way to do it -- to write for a job -- then the older version of myself would find it. That's a lot of pressure. But really, it's no pressure at all once I knock myself upside the head. I do this -- I write -- because I absolutely love doing it. Simple as that.
The Reluctant Cowboy was first drafted several years ago after my then boyfriend and I had road tripped several times over the summer. I'm not a big road tripper. Again, I'm too type A and end up packing my whole house with me every time, as if there isn't a grocery store or Target outside of my suburb (oddly enough, I travel light when airplanes are my mode of transportation). Moreover, my chronic illness makes driving long distances a Goosebumps-rated nightmare for me. At best. I get uncomfortable; I have to go to the bathroom; I panic. I need to get myself nice and distracted for a hearty road trip. I'm not hopeful this will chance.
On one fateful trip, I decided to trick my brain into thinking I was cozy and safe. And what brings me a sense of home like not a lot of other things? Writing. I started with a small town setting, met my characters, Jake and Cassie, and uncovered their second chance love story little-by-little (aka between rest stops). Throw in a secret baby trope with a twist that I didn't even expect, and I had myself a story. Yes, this twist in my love story is a little controversial; yes, I thought about that. And no, I didn't think to change it. Why?
Because it's Jake and Cassie's story. It's what happened, and I believe that as truly as if these two people were real people.
This 2020 version of The Reluctant Cowboy has gone through several drafts since I first wrote it. My first draft, in fact, was told in a dual timeline narrative, with a younger Jake and Cassie's love story also included. This story-telling technique bogged down the pacing too much, and therefore pages of work sit in a drawer forevermore (not uncommon for any writer. To date, I have like four books that will never see the light of day).
Also, in initial drafts of TRC, Jake and his brother's relationship is not one that gets highlighted too much. But, this book, along with being a romance, is a love story between siblings and parents, too. The theme of forgiveness is vital in all these characters' lives, along with the theme of allowing the people who mean the most to us to grow, evolve, and change. We all change.
My next book is more of the rom-com variety, but I'm still having a hard time leaving Jake and Cassie behind. Luckily, I'm planning on TRC being the first in a series of three books set in Lovestruck. An added bonus is that I had such a pleasure working with my editor, Judi, at The Wild Rose Press, and I want to work with her again. Stay tuned on that. I'm putting my mission right here IN WRITING so that I write the words to books two and three. The other two couples deserve their stories to be told, too.
Every time I write anything, there is a moment of trepidation. I even felt nervous writing this #post. It all feels a bit like an unraveling of myself. And that's kind of scary, I guess. You know what's scarier, however?
No, not road trips.
It's letting creativity go untouched. I invite you to do something creative today. Draw, read, play an instrument, dance, meditate, write. Write something. Write anything. One day, that's what I decided to do. Seven words changed my #romance writing life:
Jake Smith left Lovestruck for a reason.