If you ask a writer what they’ve written before, you’re bound to get a lot of weird answers. The book they’re working on is never, ever their first. Anyone who writes, who simply has to write, has drawers filled with dirty, printed secrets. I remember while I was working on what I now call the “Mia and Gavin” book, I read that you have to shelve the first one. You simply have to. And granted, Mia and Gav weren’t technically my first, but it took a little while for me to realize that the papers I’d written in college getting that degree no one cared about, and the epic love stories that lacked real plot I’d written while making moony eyes at Pacey and downloading songs on Napster before using all my parent’s ink to print them and stuff them into three-pong folders didn’t really count either.
So at first reading of that advice I’d laughed heartily and thought, “Well, of COURSE you have to shelve those.”
Not getting that I’d be shelving Mia. And Gavin. Sweet, British then Irish Gavin.
I tried to read more YA and climb out of my box of feelings and Brandi Carlile songs and actually listen to the parade of advice that was out there marching, beating their drums and shooting their confetti, because I’d made ALL of these obvious mistakes in writing a YA. All. Of. Them. I tried to laugh it off and shrug and mutter something about haters, but when I stopped mooning over Gavin and stopped falling into the delicious, moody angst that Mia radiated, I really had to finally look at myself. I had to look at my choices. Did the story start off with a dream? CHECK. Was a parent dead? DEADER THAN A DOORNAIL. AND HELL YES IT WAS A CAR ACCIDENT THAT KILLED HIM. Does she see the boy and fall in INSTANT love? SORT OF AND IT WAS AWESOME!
I’d done all that. And I needed to face the facts. I needed to step back. I needed to repent.
Mia and Gavin went through a transformation when I felt ready to pick it all back up again and come at it with all these new muscles I’d gained after working at the library and having thoughts and living life and finding all these new songs. They changed cities and became more nuanced and I wrote and wrote, but I got to the point where I knew I needed to let them go. I needed to go somewhere else with someone else. I needed to stop digging for a voice and just let the one screaming in my head out.
Because she was. Daisy was loud as hell.
I write because I have to.
And I shelve when I have to, too.