How did I get here?
The idea of working fewer hours, pursuing a passion project, and maintaining a family was a far-fetched dream for me until the world ended in March 2020. I was among the fortunate of the essential workers allowed to work from home. Amongst the zeitgeist of TikTok dances, Tiger King, mass what-the-fuck, and dissociation, it satisfied the core of me to be at home with my family. The money spent on commuting and childcare was staggering. During lockdown, we ate better, got along better, and weathered all the uncertainty with rainy PNW hikes and running D&D with Discord and Roll20.
I was no longer wasting three quarters of my workday pretending to work, so I finally picked up the nasty writing habit I’d been threatening since high school. From the summer of 2020 to the autumn of 2021, I wrote three novels and a novella. Fanfiction? Yes. But they say it takes a million words to master the craft, so I worked. I created stories with character arcs, three-act structures, and plot twists, all the while receiving live feedback on what worked and what didn’t. Fandom folks can have big opinions and feelings, and they’re not afraid to share them. Because of this, my writing improved.
I started beta reading for others again. I read constantly. For research and craft as much as pleasure. I found supportive people and came to NaNoWriMo ‘21 armed with all the vibes and a vague outline. A polyandrous, matriarchal clan with mind control magic. Set in the distant future with a clone army, space pirates, sexy hybrid-aliens, and an AI that loves them all. November was a resounding success, but the fun was soon to be over.
I was hopeful when we returned to the office on a hybrid schedule, but it ruined me. Returning meant being cut off from my bubble of cancer-diagnosed friends and family. Especially since we needed childcare again, and with childcare comes the child born virus. None of us had been sick for two years, then we weren’t well for the next six months. Combined with a zero-illness policy at work, I used every second of my leave.
The absence of writing and all the extra stress threw me off target so hard I sought therapy, medication, and tried everything to put myself together again. In order to write, I had to sacrifice time with my kid. I love my son more than anything, so I took time away from the story. And during this time, I burned myself all the way out. I’d seen how much better it had been at home, and was prepared to sacrifice for more of that life. I was desperate for a way to quit. All I wanted was to raise my kid, write books I was proud to publish, and maybe do some part-time freelancing. That spring (’22), I forced the budget to line up and withdrew from my retirement. I gave my notice, told everyone I was leaving to write smut under a pen name, and that was that. I understand the privilege it is to give up a career, have a fully supportive spouse, and no food or housing insecurity. What I thought was going to be the end of the world ended up being a most welcome fresh start.
I’ve been busy. That smutty little space opera is nearing its release and has a prequel novella coming soon. A new bear shifter romance fell out of me like a panda giving birth (Google that if you have to, it’s fucking amazing). Ideas are coming constantly. Everything is about to culminate for the first time, and though I’ve not made a dime, I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to try.