Hi everyone! I’m still alive! I never know how to start off these blog posts in a cute, attention-grabbing way so hopefully that was good enough for you. Lol.
I know it’s been months since I last posted. Things have been busy. I’ve been working full time, running my side hustle and trying to stay on track with my spiritual journey which has been fulfilling at best and exhausting consistently. But tonight, I felt like getting on here and pouring out my soul again, so here I am.
If you don’t recall, I have this little ongoing series on my blog where I give updates on the status of my writing projects and chat about how I’m feeling about them and my current head space. Tonight, I wanted to talk about where my writing has been lately, specifically, a project I’ve been working on that I’m tentatively calling Golden Swan. Kinda want to change the title, but nothing’s come to mind yet.
Golden Swan is a romance novel about two ballet dancers, Alice and Miles, who fall in love. It’s enemies to lovers, which I’m very excited about, and in addition to exploring the love and passion between these two characters, it’s also an exploration of grief, religious trauma, and other mental health issues that come along with the overly strict and scrutinized world of ballet. I really wanted to set it against the backdrop of a very competitive ballet company because a) the drama, b) I danced ballet on and off growing up and I think ballet is one of the most beautiful things in the world, so I knew I would enjoy the research (aka watching ballet videos on YouTube on repeat), and c) two people who hate each other but are forced to be dance partners is peak sexual tension and I live for it.
If you’re a writer, do you ever feel like specific projects call to you at specific times? And sometimes you’re not sure why? That’s how I’ve been feeling with this one. There is a part of me that is WAY out of my comfort zone writing an adult romance, because it’s not something I’ve ever done before. And that part of me has been really getting up in my face with the self-doubt throughout this process. But there’s another part of me that feels so lit up by this project, so energized and alive and in love that it feels like there’s no way I can give up at this point.
One reason for this is because of the characters. I have this weird pattern in my life where I create characters, fall completely in love with them, and then am never fully able to move on. Every idea and project I try to start fresh with, they come back to haunt me, begging to have their stories told. It happened with my novel Light My Sky, and this is no different. I first created my main character Alice when I was 16, for a romance novel I was writing at the time that was actually about her older sister Ivy. Now, at 23, I’m much more drawn to telling Alice’s story than I am to telling Ivy’s and last night I had this epiphany that made me realize why.
In Ivy’s story, Ivy dies at the end. From the beginning of my journey with her character, I knew she was going to die, and it was going to be tragic. Was I a ho for drama back then and wanted to make all my characters cry? Yes, but there’s more to it than that. Ivy was the sweet angel that everybody loved. She was the Beth March of her family, the selfless, kind good girl that inspired everybody around her. She had a strong faith in God, and she lived her religion in the way that I used to think was the right one. In a lot of ways, Ivy was what I wanted to be when I was that age. She fit the mold of this perfect, faithful girl that I was trying desperately to be. And then I killed her. Did I realize the symbolism at the time? No, but you can bet I do now.
Ivy’s sister Alice was the complete opposite. She was the rebel, with a raging anger inside of her that she had difficulty controlling. She was the one who struggled to believe, when it seemed to come easily to everyone around her. She had an attitude problem, and she was never afraid to speak her mind. In Golden Swan, Alice is nineteen. Her sister has already passed away, and she’s dealing with the grief and regrets that accompany the loss of a sibling. In some ways she has shed the beliefs and limitations of her past, but she is still haunted by the memory of her perfect sister, made even more perfect in death. She still feels this constant need to measure up to her.
When I was sixteen, I think I identified more with Ivy, sweet, submissive and people pleasing. But now, Alice is my girl. She’s rough around the edges, and has all kinds of issues, but she’s living for authenticity and trying to be her true self. And at the end of the day, so am I. But when we try to move forward and embrace that, we’re still haunted by the ghost of the girl who needed to be perfect.
Disclaimer here: Neither of these characters are based on me, and I have a very different personality and belief system than both of them. As weird as this might sound, they are very much their own people (because my characters are real people to me). I just wanted to explore why I’ve gravitated more towards writing about one or the other throughout my life.
Hopefully this made sense. If you are writer and you’re reading this, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Have you ever identified with one of your characters? Have you ever thought you wanted to write about one character and then switched gears completely? And do you think of your characters as real people, or am I just crazy?
As always, I’m sending you all the love and light,