As a writer, I am obsessed with journeys. Sure, I love a good fictitious romp–I’ve been making up stories since I was young enough to string a sentence together. But it is in recent years–the years where I said goodbye to my marriage and started anew, anti-depressants in one hand, wine in the other–that I’ve become enamored with true stories written by real people. As I mentioned in my last post, these are the stories that have comforted me in my most difficult moments post divorce. These are the stories that have told me: Someone else has been where you are, and they made it out alive. These are the stories that have encouraged me to keep going.
I started this blog as a way to stop hiding behind my fiction, as a way to tell the true story of what happens when a romance novelist loses her happily ever after, and as a way to reach out to others who may be going through what I’m going through, and to let them know they are not alone.
At the New Year, when I wrote my last post, 37 Extraordinary Dreams ~ One Extraordinary Year, I had it in my head that I needed to go do something extraordinary!, use it as a way to work through my grief, and write about it along the way. Much like Cheryl Strayed does in Wild and Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, I wanted to go somewhere exciting or do something huge to, once and for all, shed my wretched divorce baggage and move on with my life. But instead of coming up with one big journey to take, I came up with thirty-seven!
I have been hard at work on making many of my dreams a reality–I’ve spent two weeks in France (out of the four I promised myself), I’ve seen my books on the shelves of bookstores, I finished my screenplay, I’ve been dancing as much as my busy schedule will allow, and I can almost do the splits again!
What I didn’t realize when I made this list, though, is that I have already been on an extraordinary journey, one that is worthy of writing about. One that I hope will inspire others. One that I desperately want to tell.
So, logically, being the devious novelist that I am, I decided to hide all of that juiciness in a novel! See #15 on my list:
15. Write and publish my next novel: The Places That Were Ours
Oh, yes, The Places That Were Ours was going to be a novel based loosely…ahem…on the most intense, heartbreaking, passionate years of my life. I figured that if I can’t tie up my own love stories into neat little bows of happily ever after, at least I know my characters can!
So, I wrote the prologue and the first fifty pages, and I pitched the book to my agent and to my publisher as fiction. I went so far as to place my protagonist in a coma so that even she wouldn’t have to face her demons.
Talk about hiding behind my art.
But each time I opened up the document, I couldn’t write past the first few chapters. Something essential was missing. Something monumental…
Ahh, that pesky little thing I have been going to such lengths to avoid: The Truth.
And then, before I could take this book any further, my publisher turned it down. I wasn’t too distraught, though, because I knew somewhere deep down that I didn’t want to write this novel. I didn’t want to hide behind my characters’ questionable choices, their hidden desires, their passionate love affairs, their sweet triumphs and most embarrassing catastrophes.
I wanted to write about my own.
But as it often goes in life, I had to hit rock bottom before I could find the courage to do the thing I really wanted to do. And so, when my next major writing rejection came, I finally, finally, said–and please do excuse my French–fuck it.
If this is the only story that is surging through my veins, keeping me up at night, begging to bleed its ink onto the pages, then just write the damn story.
If the only thing that truly matters to me anymore is being purely, unabashedly, unapologetically me, then just write the damn story.
Otherwise, what am I doing here?
As a writer, it’s not my job to write fluff. It’s not my job to keep people happy. It’s my job to tell a story. A damn good story. And so, for better or for worse, wedded as I am to my craft, I have decided to write the story in my heart.
The story that is mine.
The story that is ours.
And so, it is with excitement, a little bit of trepidation, and mostly joy that I announce my next book:
Meet Me in Paris
One Romance Novelist’s Quest to Write Her Own Happily Ever After
What does a romance novelist do when she loses her own happily ever after? Take a lover and travel to Paris, obviously. Or at least this is what Juliette Sobanet did upon making the bold, heart-wrenching decision to divorce the man she had loved since she was a teenager. This is the story of the passionate love affair that ensued during the most devastating year of Sobanet’s life and how her star-crossed romance in the City of Light ultimately led to her undoing. Meet Me in Paris is a raw, powerful take on divorce and the daring choices that followed such a monumental loss from the pen of a writer who’d always believed in happy endings.
I’m close to 100 pages along this wild journey, and I’m loving it. As for a release date, I don’t know yet. But I do know that I am finally, truly, following my heart.
To take a quote from my favorite truth teller…