**Looking Back is a new series here where I take a jaunt down memory lane and revisit my past stories. I’ll talk about what inspired me and some of the process while writing it. Hope you enjoy!**
Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve been writing since I was about ten years old. Mostly romantic fiction, even at that age. It waned some in middle school, and then there was a resurgence in high school and college. And beyond. I had stories in my head all the time. Mostly influenced by what I was reading at the time. Harlequin romances? I had sweet with heat in my head. Paranormal? PNR abounds. And then in 2009, I found MM romance and my fate was sealed.
I started thinking about men falling in love with men, and the stories in my head were only those. I’d always wanted to be an author, ever since I first started writing, but up until that point most of what I wrote I just didn’t deem good enough to even try. Until started thinking gay romance. Until I read and read and read and actually thought “I can do this.”
My first published story was Worth It. Though it’s no longer available, it was the first story I completed and actually thought was good enough to be published. That I was actually ready for other people to read. It came from a sub call, and was part of a collection. I was so unbelievably nervous to submit it, on tenterhooks in the months following, waiting for a response. I nearly threw up when I got the email accepting it and offering me a contract.
Worth It came about slowly, but when I actually started putting words on paper, they flowed easily. The prompt was “heartwarming” and it was to be a holiday story. Right there, I was already getting one of my favorite tropes, as holiday romances are my crack. I also knew I wanted a grumpy MC, not only because I love that in an MC, but because I knew I also wanted a reunion romance, and so he would have reason to be grumpy.
Jackson was born pretty easily, and he told me he ran his family’s Christmas tree farm. I dove into research about that, and fell in love. Ryan was a little harder, because he had to have a reason to leave. But his ambition caught me, and I sent him to college. But I knew he would be pining for Jackson, just as hard as Jackson was pining for him. I knew they would end up together—it is a romance after all—but I had to figure out how to get them back together. So it made sense to me that they would make a pact, to come back together after five years, when Ryan was done with his extended program. Jackson had lost all hope that Ryan would come back though. He was convinced Ryan would have moved on with his life by then. Especially because Jackson was a few years older, and he expected for Ryan to find someone else once he was out in the big world, away from their small town and the farm.
As I said, when I actually started writing, the words flowed easily. I think I wrote the first draft in about three days. Granted, it was only 8k words when I was done, but for the first time, I was actually really proud of what I wrote. Jackson was my POV character, I found my groove in writing, and he spoke to me with a clear voice. Scenes came to me as if I were watching a movie. Especially the scene where Jackson and his pregnant sister are riding on a tractor and talking about Ryan, and how it’s been five years. The reunion scene between Jackson and Ryan at their favorite spot. There’s even a line I wrote that I still think about to this day.
The story is outdated now, and I’m a far better writer than I was way back then. It was nine years ago, after all. In fact, I wrote it in March and April of 2013. Though I would probably handle the story and characters differently today as I’ve grown a lot in the intervening years, I can’t help but be proud of this short story. It will always have a special place in my heart.
It all began with Jackson and Ryan, Christmas trees and a reunion, and two men who were meant to to have their happily ever after.