These last few weeks, I’ve learned that breaking into publishing is like being a foal shakily finding its feet for the first time; it’s hard to know how to walk or even where to walk, but luckily Loose Id (as a publisher) is pretty good at leading horses out of the pasture. Writing this book was a wonderful experience for me. I loved writing the characters, being swept up in the emotions and conflict, feeling what they felt, going where they went. Editing it was a whole new ball of wax; one that became a powerful learning curve. As writers we often read articles about “stretching our creative muscles” and “stepping outside of our comfort zones.” But what does that mean, when all is said and done?
We’ve all been there, staring into the abyss of our computer screens, blinking owlishly, trying to decide how best to make our story better or the sex scenes sexier. We’ve all had those “I’m giving her all she’s got, Cap’n!” moments, where we’re beyond ready to throw a grown up tantrum and shout to the heavens with frustration over something that should seem so simple, but is in fact, problematic. When I was editing At the Heart of the Stone and spicing up the love scenes, which was something I was required to do prior to publishing, I learned what it was to seriously step out of my comfort zone, and it was a major humbling, eye-opening experience.
Now, I’m a pretty down-to-earth type of gal. I thought I’d learned what it was to be brave when I joined the military. I’ve gone on 10k road marches, dealt with angry mobs during crowd control when the Iraq War broke out, even wore a sumo wrestling outfit during the funner parts of combat training, and I’ve had to press myself beyond my limits both mentally and physically throughout my life. But nothing prepared me for what it took to seriously cast off inhibitions and really explore what a love scene was as a writer.
As people, we like our comforts. We LIKE being able to go to Panda Express or Wendy’s or Red Robin and get that chow mein/burger/meal we’ve been craving. We enjoy chilling out and watching a good movie on our couches with some popcorn and our significant other. What on earth would possess us to get up and do something else, when we’ve become accustomed and comfortable with our lives? Here it is: potential. Like people, stories have the potential to grow and learn, and become more refined, interesting versions of what they once were. I struggled with this a bit, and I had to really push myself to let go of the comfort zone I had in initially writing love scenes, but ultimately I’m glad I did, because I feel like I’ve learned something from it and have matured a little as a writer.
Sex is a part of every day life, and we shouldn’t be afraid of it when it comes to writing romance. It needs to be embraced, and explored; how does it magnify the emotions and feelings of what the people are going through? What does real intimacy mean/look like? Being explicit doesn’t mean it has to be gratuitous. It’s a beautiful thing.
My point in writing this is that I wanted to relate stepping out of our comfort zones into life. We all have something we’re far too comfortable with, be it that exact thirty minutes on the cross-trainer when it could be more, only going as far as we have to with a certain corporate or school project, or even in setting goals in our parenting. By pushing ourselves a little further, just giving ourselves that little extra nudge we need, we can find things out about ourselves and our personal potential that we never knew we had. We’re all capable of so much more, and we develop a greater understanding about ourselves the further we go.