Hold On, It Only Gets Better

Image created by Dia of The Perfictionist.

These last two months have been crazy.

Ever since I released my second book, I had been doing my own marketing and promotions, trying to get as many people as possible to read the book. So far so good–I’ve heard from the people who have read it and liked it, so it wasn’t too bad.

Or so it seems.

Because deep inside, I had this thought that maybe my writing really sucked, because nobody was reading it and nobody was reviewing it and dear God why are people rating my book so low and why is everybody else who got started later than I am getting reviews for their books and SHIT I MUST REALLY SUCK AS A WRITER KILL ME NOW I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER. 

Now, let me be honest with you: I was never in this for the money. (This is why I’m in school–my PhD is my meal ticket.) But the more I worried about reviews, the more I compared myself to other people, and I ended up getting more paranoid and upset. Two more books, I told myself. Two more books this year, and then you decide if you still want to do this. 

And this is on top of the stress that I’ve already been in since August. Paperwork. Exam reviews. Losing my laptop to a wayward glass of water (don’t ask) and transferring four years’ worth of work to a machine that, while shiny and new, can’t compare to the years that I had spent slaving away on both Save the Cake and Crushingly Close on a computer that felt like a good friend. (A friend that had been begging to be euthanized in the last six months–if I went by the assessment of the techie friend who took her apart–but a good friend nonetheless.)

So that’s where we are right now.

Which brings us to a story about my new computer.

You see, before I started using Scrivener, my novel-writing software of choice was yWriter. And since I was running Windows 10 on this laptop (which still needs a name) I decided to download yWriter 6 to see if I could salvage the stuff I wrote with that software. And it just so happens that the last thing I wrote on yWriter was Cada Veces, which seemed so ambitious and grand in the beginning but now reads like a very rough draft compared to my newer work.

So I read it. Parts of it, at least. I didn’t cringe (on the contrary, I was surprised to recognize some elements that I had inserted into my other books without thinking about it) but I was surprised by how much I’d pinned my hopes onto this manuscript, how I was aiming for something that incorporated string theory and parallel universes and ended up writing a romance featuring the most annoying “nice guy” to walk this earth. (Mind you, I had just finished That Kind of Guy, and I was trying to redeem the guy that Mina wanted to kick in the nuts.) For the most part, it represented the worst of my writing habits back then, especially since I didn’t write this with an outline or an ending in mind. The results were word vomit–readable word vomit, but still.

And that’s when the words occurred to me: It only gets better. 

All I’d ever wanted was to write things from my heart. The stories I tell are quieter and more intimate than everything else in the market, and maybe that’s what’s holding me back. But I know how it feels to stop writing, and there’s nothing that completes my soul quite like it. So I have to keep doing it, in any way that I can, and hold off on making drastic decisions until I can be clear on the path that I want to forge for myself.

I can’t tell you what’s going to happen to those two books that I’m working on right now, let alone what I’m going to write after they’re finished. (Except for my dissertation–and even then, I’m not expecting much of anything from that other than a passing grade.) What I can say is that I don’t see myself giving up any time soon, but it will take more than a little soul-searching to get past the initial sadness.

Because really, it only gets better. And even if I have to wait, at least I’ll know that I’ll have my answer soon enough.

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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