I am not sure who needs to know this, but Mate and I get into our TV.
I mean, REALLY into our TV.
To the extent that I cried like a baby during the last two episodes of LoveCraft Country--like, I couldn't breathe kind of crying, and Mate and I took turns looking at our phones so we could calm ourselves down because dayum.
And then, when that was done, we were watching Call the Midwife, and, well--there was a moment when a woman found out she was pregnant in the middle of labor, and she panicked.
And Mate was pretty shaken. And I thought I was all cried out but I wasn't.
So the thing is, sometimes we will step off TV not because its bad, and not because it bores us--but because we are not emotionally equipped to deal with it.
I know we did that particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. Anything too scary, anything too emotional, and we were like, "See ya! Come to me you British crime drama that underplays emotion but remains gritty and authentic! YOU are our salvation!"
And it pretty much has been for the last few months.
So when people tell me, "Oh, I love your light stuff, but I just can't handle Beneath the Stain or Johnnies!" --I get it. I mean, that's why I write it. Because for me, there's two kinds of hard writing.
There's the hard plotty stuff-- Fish Out of Water being one of the prime examples, and All the Rules of Heaven being another. Anything with intricate plots in which details build upon one another and I have to keep the details consistent AND give my characters reasons for reacting the way they do is a challenge. I know some writers do things episodically. Episode, episode, episode, grand realization, FINIS! And people love that kind of writing and sometimes, I'm all for it myself. But for me specifically when I'm writing, the things they do and say in the course of the book have to be building toward something--there must be a full circle and a character advancement or I've failed my job. So that's challenging.
The other hard writing is the emotional writing. String Boys was a pretty basic plot. The Locker Room was too. But what the characters were going through--that was hard, and it hurt, and don't get me started on Chase in Shadow because I had to take a few deep breaths after that one, believe you me!
The shorter, happier books are easier. Not technically--technically there are always challenges. For example, in Warm Heart, I had to figure out how to get those guys down the hill in a way that wasn't, "We survived in tepid temperatures with a little snow. Hooray?" at the same time nobody threw the book across the room because they thought everybody was going to die. The Virgin Manny was tough because we had to believe--totally and completely--in Tino's agency. In fact, all the Manny books had an age gap/agency conflict, and I had to make those believable, or they would have been sort of icky, and that's a bad way to write a romance. Candy Man had to be all about second chances--and sweetness. And sometimes the technical aspects gave me fits--I mean, I can't remember military protocol for shit--it doesn't matter how often I open that damned browser, I'm a complete lunatic and I owe veterans an apology just for existing.
But they're easier on my soul. They don't make me afraid to open my computer. And just like with movies or television, sometimes that's the kind of story you need--whether you're writing it or consuming it. So for those who love one kind and can't read the other? I get it. No worries. Read what makes you happy--I understand.
And this is completely and totally unrelated, but I should throw it in here anyway.
While I've been writing this blog post, my teenagers, both of them have come out to tell me something about their day. Now, I have a big cup of water--fizzy water, but iced--sitting next to my keyboard on my desk at all times. And both of them have come out and taken a sip.
They do this every night.
Sometimes we talk for twenty minutes or so, and sometimes they just take a drink of my water and give me a hug.
We tend to think of teenagers needing us less. It's always important to remember that they need us different. Not less. Just different. I know that makes me feel better, anyway.
Tomorrow night? I'm watching moody Celtic murder mystery, because after tonight's sob fest? That's my jam.