Beyond The Stars

First things first: Yes, I was at the #BitterxSweet event at Ayala Museum, where I sold Crushingly Close and Save the Cake (and signed both books for fans) as well as stuck around for the live readings. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures from that event, for various reasons. There are, however, pictures of me comforting my fellow #romanceclass authors while they sat through the live readings of their books, so there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that I was present at the event. So that’s that. (You’ll have to go on YouTube for videos of the readings, or wait until my fellow #romanceclass authors have processed their feels.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, though, I’d like to share a few other things about my writing life that did occur to me over the weekend.

Recently I was out to dinner with a friend of mine, and our conversation turned to my feelings about my writing life. I’m not going into specifics here–there was a lot of intense talk about what we were both going through as writers–but I did mention that I was having a hard time engaging local readers and bloggers with my stories. You see, I had been doubting myself, on and on, because I couldn’t stop comparing myself with the other authors in my circle, and I kept asking myself what it was that they had that I didn’t. Was my writing good enough? Is it a problem with the market, the readers, the gatekeepers? Did I have the stomach to keep moving on?

I’d also mentioned to her that my NaNoWriMo experience felt like a fluke to me, a rare instance of capturing lightning in a bottle. What if this was it for me–what if, after I’d polished my WIPs to perfection, I’ll never be able to write another book again?

Then, out of nowhere, I’d mentioned that I’d lived in Honolulu for 12 years, compared to my six years in Quezon City and eight in the Philippines in general. She just looked at me and said, “There’s your answer.”

I’d done a lot of thinking about this, and I realized that I haven’t really tapped enough into my own multicultural life. I had the advantage of living overseas and being well-traveled, and I hadn’t made the most of it in my writing. And yet, for so long, I’d resisted writing about them because I was afraid that I would alienate people, that it would make me look smug in the eyes of people who haven’t traveled as much as I have even with the choices that I made in my life.

I can still write about them. I can make good fiction out of them. The problem is, how was I supposed to fit all of that into the rest of my life?

Answer: one step at a time.

I don’t have to write all of the stories now, not while I’m in school and not when there are three WIPs competing for my attention. But I can plan them, the same way that I did when I wrote my NaNoWriMo story.  I can build the outlines piece by piece before throwing them into the proverbial blender. Then, when the time comes–say, when the next NaNoWriMo comes along–I’ll be prepared to write them, and be ready to commit.

But what will I do with them once I’m finished? Ah, but that’s where the real planning comes in. And that’s the part that I’m not ready to talk about just yet, because I don’t have enough information that’s worth sharing. Let’s just say that it involves taking greater risks and building up a new strategy that could take me beyond where I am now. This also means taking my writing career seriously–writing every day, doing more research about my publishing options, and generally looking at how far I can take myself in this journey. Again, this is all in the planning stages, but eventually I’ll figure out what I’m going to do once I know where I’m going.

Either way, I’m excited about this new direction that I’m taking my writing in, and I’m hoping that I can make the most of this while I can. Here’s to new beginnings!

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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