What Once Was was the first book I started writing after finishing the Reave Series. And it was the first one that I halted partway through and started working on another with! That was unusual for me at the time and in some ways still is (in other aspects of life). I’m a ‘drive it ‘til the wheels fall off’ sort of person, get it done, move on. (THEN come back, work more on it, work on something else, back again, so on. I’ve always felt that helps me look at them with fresh eyes—working on something between.)
So. Ten years ago was when I started.
It took me several years to finish the series! Only because of the gap. When it was time to really write? I wrote until it was done.
One thing I’ve learned with writing books is that sometimes that gap is best. You can be writing on a story that needs to ‘age’ a bit inside you, or maybe you need to age a bit to be able to get it out in the way it should be gotten out. I feel this one was far more the latter thing, and I know that if I’d tried to force myself to get through writing it when I STARTED writing it?
It would’ve been completely different.
It also probably wouldn’t have had (at least) some of the content it does!
I needed to get a little more ‘comfortable’ with writing and doing so in an open sort of way, taking myself as far out of things as I could get, in order to allow the characters their space to breathe and be.
These characters need a lot of space to breathe and be, in some ways!
One way I’m describing this series is: Not only rough around the edges but the entirety of itself.
And it is.
This may be the only book I’ve ever written where I feel you can read the first line and in some ways know EXACTLY what to expect from it.
But that’s only in one sense. Maybe two senses.
These characters are deep, damaged, flawed, strong but weakened, hard/hardened, and in a great deal of pain.
I like to think, in a lot of ways, that my job is something like trying to iron out kinks in clothes that just won’t budge. Solving problems when they’re not everyday problems and are actually damages to someone’s soul. You have to look at them, assess what’s wrong...
And keep writing until things get better.
People hurting hurts me. I always feel like the characters are in the situations they are and I’m trying to fix their problems, lives, and selves more than anything. (Definitely in no way trying to worsen them, not even to ‘make things interesting’. Life is ‘interesting’ enough without my help on that, I feel.)
Work until it’s done. Write until it’s better. That might actually be the best way to describe my mentality in life more than anything I could ever say. Sometimes... You’ve got to take a step back in order to be at a place within yourself to make that possible. And I had to with this. That was something I learned from this series, personally, but not from the actual words. From the writing of it.
The actual words?
Well. There’s a lot there. I’m hoping other people might think so too.
I’m going to reiterate that this series is rough, in its ways. (And I’ll leave a link at the bottom of this to the book page on my website, where there’s a content advisory.) It doesn’t tiptoe around difficult issues or difficulty at all. It charges straight in. I said in the newsletter release for the book that the main character has more bite than probably any other character I’ve written, and that includes some with fangs. And she does.
I love that about her! (She’s VERY different from me, and I VERY much at times wish I could say to her, ‘Girl, you best sit yourself down.’ But I wouldn’t, even if I could. I just do some head-shaking and smiling to myself about things here and there....)
I hope some people love her too.
And all the rest of the characters, especially with this series as a whole.
When I was a younger lady (and was a little less lady-like than I might be at this moment...), I was lucky enough to have a group of people in my life who helped me get through the hard stuff that I couldn’t face on my own. Maybe not by dealing with it directly, but being there with me after and making life a little better when getting through the days at times seemed impossible to me.
I’ll say more about that in my ‘reviews’ for one of the other books, I’m sure. I don’t want to ‘give too much away’ for this one.
But on a personal note? If any of the people who were that for me happen to look at this?
Thank you. For helping this little Southern girl get through the hard stuff and/or just making life a lot brighter and better a thing. <3