Years ago, I wrote six novels and in each one, I tried to conform to an idea of the “right” kind of romance novel. I would literally write it my way then go back through and smooth down the dialogue, remove curse words, tame any scenes of violence to a PG13 rating. I would actually pull out some of the raw, realistic brutality of action scenes and tone down the love scenes. I second-guessed my first, gut instinct all the time.
No wonder they didn’t sell.
I did get the attention of a couple of editors, one who asked for rewrites, but I always felt that I was capable of better, edgier writing. To this day, I still sometimes have to fight the prudish, little internal editors I let set up shop back then. I used to think of them as these weird, morphed versions of my more religious family members. I’d be doing rewrites with these creatures pointing their razor-sharp, judgmental tipped fingers.
Then one day, I grew up. Clued in. Call it what you will, but I realized that this wasn’t about what anyone else thought. This was about me. My writing. I was holding myself back and I can’t really explain why. Possibly a childhood of being at the end of that pointing finger–something no child should ever experience. (Now, that is a whole other, very long discussion–the kind I can wax angry poetic on for hours. 😉 )
So, I gave myself permission to Just. Let. Go. Yeah, there are times when I fall into old patterns, where that membrane-like layer of self-doubt reigns in the stark, emotional writing I can sense just on the other side. We can easily set hard-to-break patterns for ourselves. Ones that sometimes feel as if they are sucking all of the creativity out of us.
But let me share. Breaking free feels like nothing else.