I wish I could lie and say that writing Before I Break was an easy journey. When I came up with the idea for the story, I knew it was going to be a difficult book to write, because I was going to be writing it from the point of view of someone I wouldn’t necessarily like in real life. Here is a list of things I learned while writing my very first (and very challenging) published novel.
1. Writing from a perspective of someone opposite from you.
If anything was challenging about this book, that would be it. Not only was it hard for me to actually get inside Cyril’s head, it was difficult for me to get my fingers to type some of the things he would say, like “fag” or anything else that was hurtful. I’ve had many experiences with straight guys that were not very pleasant, so when I told myself I was going to do this, I was looking at myself like I was crazy.
Am I really going to go through with this? Can I even go through with this? What if I use too many stereotypes? What if he’s unlikable? These are the things I worried about for MONTHS before I actually sat down to write. I had an idea of where I was taking the ending, but the stuff in the middle…I had no idea. I just knew that everything had to lead up to that ending–the ending that I didn’t really want to write but knew I needed to. It was a hard book. It really was. I cried multiple times throughout the book, as well. Some people think that makes me a baby, but a majority of people don’t know what I’ve gone through, so writing the book was not an easy task. Writing from the perspective of the type of person who has told me to kill myself because no one wants me, or beat me up in school, or picked on my for being who I was…it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done as a writer, and for it to be my first book, I am extremely proud.
2. Not all straight guys are jerks.
This sounds like an obvious statement, but like I said, I’ve had pretty bad experiences. Most of the straight guys I met were assholes, there’s no doubt about that. In school, almost all of my friends were girls because I just couldn’t deal with straight guys. It was awful. I had to hide any time I saw one. There was always this fear that I had, and I think a lot of times, the friendships with straight guys that I had that did go wrong eventually…it was my fault. Because there was always this internal fear that something would go wrong, so it did. Always.
This book was an experience. Sometimes, I learned, guys (and girls too) just do what they know. A lot of them truly don’t know any better and haven’t had any room to think for themselves. There is sometimes this conflict inside of them, and that’s what I tried to portray in Before I Break. A lot of people said they thought Cyril was bipolar, but he isn’t. He’s confused. He’s really, really confused and can’t make up his mind.
But the point is, I learned that they’re not all the same, and I wanted to write a book for straight guys in need of some ideas. I want to change perspectives. To prevent the ending of Before I Break from happening to others, this book needs to be read. And I’m not just saying that because I wrote it.
3. Religion CAN be used for good.
This was something I kind of already knew, but didn’t know how it could be put into action. In this book, you had two sides: Homosexuality as a sin and homosexuality as a norm. So which is right? You can already assume my answer, but I think it’s up to the reader to decide.
Cyril’s mom grows as a character, even if just a little, because she looks into what she believes. Cyril looks into it. Melissa already had her heart set right. Avery was a gay Christian. Pastor Morrison and Jake were homophobes. There were a lot of dynamics in the book, and life is a lot like that. Who is right and who’s wrong? Will we ever really have the answer to that?
4. There are different types of love.
Obviously there’s a family love, a relationship love, and then a friend love. But is there somewhere in the middle as well? Cyril struggled in the book and wondered if there was a possibility he could be gay. There’s no denying that Cyril loves Avery, but it’s not in the way that many people wanted it. Heck, even I wanted he and Avery to get down and dirty a few times, but I knew that wasn’t Cyril. Cyril is straight and always will be, but there was that connection he and Avery shared. It was strong and I think a lot of friendships in real life can be like that.
5. The writing industry is hard.
I wish I could say I’ve made millions off of this book, but I’m not. Actually, most people aren’t even aware that this book exists, unfortunately, but I have gained some fans and amazing friends through the process. More people are buying every day, but I’m still not making a lot of money. Actually, I’m hardly making a dime.
If you haven’t read it already, it is currently free for Kindle on Amazon.
But the process is worth it. Writing it was worth it. Seeing it come to life as a book in my hands with a beautiful cover was worth it. I just hope the readers find it as worth it as I did.