A guest post by S. Usher Evans
Thanks again to the gals here at Indie Plot Twist for having me back for a third time. I confess, I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago to avoid working on the book that I’m writing this blog to promote (#meta).
That’s right friends, I’m afraid to write my own book.
The subject matter itself is not gory, it’s not mean or hateful or anything negative like that. It’s about a young woman who travels to a fantasy world and tangles with a dragon. Dragons are scary, but they aren’t real, right?
Well, this one is. Because this dragon is an allegory for my anxiety.
I got the idea for this book after I realized that I had avoided actually coming to terms with my infamous break-up for nearly a year and a half. What I was really afraid of was what accepting our new separated reality might mean – that the one person who I trusted to never reject me … rejected me. And since rejection is Fear #2 on my Big List of Things That Terrify Me, coupled with being alone – well, I’m sure you can see why I was so unwilling to face the truth. So much so that I refused to even think about it, even though it stayed in the back of my mind, reminding me of its presence every so often.
Because I knew it was there, and I was afraid that it was there, I became more afraid of it until my fear spiraled out of control until I was more afraid of The Break-Up (meaning, the big cloud of terrible emotions surrounding that entire episode) than upset over actually ending the relationship with the guy.
This idea blossomed into Empath (available now on all fine ebook and paperback stores). In the book, Lauren’s fear takes the shape of the lovely red dragon on the cover–the Anghenfil. But it’s not simply the dragon itself, it’s what the dragon represents. It lives inside her mind, whispering all of the things she’s afraid to think (sound familiar?).
While the initial drafting of the first couple chapters went swimmingly, once I started diving into some of the more … realistic pieces (exploring my own behaviors towards fear through Lauren), I found myself actively avoiding working on it.
Although Lauren was in a fantasy world, every time she fell deeper into depression and loneliness, it was ripping a page from my own life. I write how I (Lauren) would be out and about and BAM sadness suddenly takes over. I write about how people ask Lauren how she’s doing, and although she’s drowning with worry and fear, she smiles and says, “Oh no, I’m perfectly fine.” I write about how I (Lauren) was obsessed with getting married, and how I latched onto the first boy who looked at me twice after my ex and I broke up, the fear of being alone scarier than being with someone who didn’t make me happy. I write about missing home so badly that I couldn’t even stand it. I write about my fear of rejection, and how I (Lauren) failed to make any real connections in this new land, not because people rejected her, but because she assumed they would.
When I would work on it, it would leave me so emotionally drained that I couldn’t get past 700 words per day (my normal daily deposit is 3-4k). Going through the rest of the book development process – beta readers, line editing, final QA, was even more exhausting. My fear of reading the book was even overpowering my overbearing perfectionism – which is truly saying something.
I wish I could tell you that writing Empath cured me of all of my fears, all of my nerves, and made me a totally well-adjusted person. I also wish I could tell you I won the lottery, but there you go. What this book has given me is a mantra – a few key phrases that remind me of the lessons that I learned with Lauren. Things like “Holding onto the past because I’m afraid of the future is no way to live” and the idea of allowing people in without expecting they’ll reject me. When I feel afraid, or I feel alone, or I am falling back into bad habits, I call on those phrases in meditation and can move past the fear.
My hope for Empath as I send it out into the universe this month (and it’s a stand-alone, no plans for a sequel) is that someone who is struggling will see themselves in Lauren, and it spurs them to ask for help. Be it with a breakup, depression, anxiety, substance abuse – whatever. As I say in the author’s note at the end:
“You are braver than you think, stronger than you could ever imagine, and aren’t in this alone.”
About the Author
S. Usher Evans is an author, blogger, and witty banter aficionado. Born in a small, suburban town in northwest Florida, she was seventeen before she realized that not all beach sand is white. From a young age, she has always been a long-winded individual, first verbally (to the chagrin of her ever-loving parents) and then eventually channeled into the many novels that dotted her Windows 98 computer in the early 2000’s. After high school, she got the hell outta dodge and went to school near the nation’s capital, where she somehow landed jobs at National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, capping off her educational career with delivering the commencement address to 20,000 of her closest friends. She determined she’d goofed off long enough with that television nonsense and got a “real job” as an IT consultant. Yet she continued to write, developing 20 page standard operating procedures and then coming home to write novels about badass bounty hunters, teenage magic users, and other nonsense. After a severe quarter life crisis at age 27, she decided to finally get a move on and share those novels with the world in hopes that she will never have to write another SOP again.
Where to Find Her
About Her Book
Lauren Dailey is in break-up hell. Stuck between moving on and letting go, she puts on a brave face while crying herself to sleep at night. But when a mysterious voice promises escape from her sadness, she is suddenly transported to a new world. And in this place, the slightest touch pulls her out of her tortured emotions into the mind of another – an empath. The villagers – sweet Aerona and her mischievous twins, wise Siors, and hunky Cefin – welcome her and the blessings her empath powers bring. But this world is not without its dangers. The Anghenfil, a fire-breathing monster, has haunted the village for decades, and has a taste for empaths. And that mysterious voice promising escape from sadness? It’s sounding more like a whisper tinged with smoke and embers.
Can Lauren keep the monsters in the mountain and in her head at bay? Or will she succumb to the darkness like the empath before her …
Where to Find It