Back around the late fall of 2011, I stumbled across a website that would, over the next two years, become a veritable haven for me. I soon found myself in the habit of reading amateur fiction there as often as I could steal a few minutes in front of the computer. Not very much later, I paused in my reading and thought to myself, hey, I could do this—I could write some of my better ideas out into short stories, too! I remembered a little nugget of an idea I’d had and, without giving myself time to talk myself out of it, I opened a fresh Word document and started typing. It wasn’t even all that difficult—the words just kind of spilled out of me. 7,600 of them later and it was finished. In hindsight, that little story really wasn’t very good, as all first stories after a long period of not writing tend not to be, but it was a start, and it made me feel good about myself, like I’d accomplished something…I don’t know…real, I guess.
Fast forward to a year and several more short stories under my belt later, and an idea for a full-fledged novel which had been buzzing around in my brain for months finally demanded my sole attention. I began roughing out a story plan for what would later become Promises and Other Broken Things.
It was, in its essence, a love story. But my goal right from the start was that I wanted to write something different from your typical formulaic paperback romance, something I understood some readers would probably find a bit controversial. I wanted to write a story about an affair—yes, about infidelity—which wouldn’t turn off the reader. In fact, I planned to write it in such a way as to make it so understandable that my reader would not only sympathize, but grow to care strongly about the fate of my main characters. This was not an easy task. I had friends, fellow writer friends even, tell me they’d never even consider reading a story about cheating. I was a little daunted, but I plowed ahead anyway, choosing to write in dual first person point of view so my reader would feel right inside the minds of both protagonists. My hope was that this style of narrative would help them know and understand how each character really felt about their situations, and why they made the choices they did.
Once I finished the first draft, instead of the immense feeling of accomplishment and joy you might expect, I was mostly just numb. The story had been an emotional roller-coaster to write, and the very idea of having to go back and do re-writes and—gasp!—let others read it was not just overwhelming, but downright terrifying. I’d poured my heart and soul into this huge chunk of fiction, perhaps not blood, but certainly sweat and tears, and I was well aware it was a subject matter some would find off-putting. But I did it anyway; I sucked it up and let a few writer friends read it, took their advice seriously, and began to edit.
Another ten months went by. Three editor’s feedback, many friends’ opinions, and countless revisions later, and at last it was complete. I had a title. I had a front cover. I had a novel I was proud of.
And best of all, I succeeded, at least in some small part, in what I set out to do. I have had several readers tell me how deeply my story has affected them, and how much they loved and ached for my characters. Not a small number have also begged me to write a sequel, eager to discover how these characters’ stories will end.
So, that is the next big project ahead for me—to figure out the answer to that question, not only as a thank-you to those who have taken the time to read my story and share with me their feelings, but also because I need to see my beloved characters through to the end of their journey.
For more information about J.S. Eades or her novel, Promises and Other Broken Things, including the first chapter, please visit: http://www.jseades.com
You Are Not Alone: stories of hope, by Lisa Browning