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Growing up, Turning 24, and Loving Writing Again.
Hey, loves! Today it is a chilly, beautiful day outside and the sun is graciously making an appearance. It’s also my 24th birthday.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Kaitlin. I write YA and adult romantic fantasy. I’m also a Greek & Roman history nerd, photographer, and reader. I love a good romance as much as I love a good tragedy. I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood. It’s no surprise I grew up to be a writer, too. Writing is what I consider to be my first love. No matter how my life changes, I always come back to writing.
With the way social media has shifted in the last six months or so and how my own life has changed, I took a step back from the online writing communities. The peace I felt letting go of the pressure to grow my platforms was enormous. It allowed me to reconnect to the why of my writing. That is, why I started in the first place. It also allowed me to be more intentional when I was online. But with the turn of the year, I knew I wanted to reconnect to the writing community, too. And so, to keep things more personal, SWEETBITTER was born.
SWEETBITTER is the manifestation of a dream. Of community, of writing, of connecting with others who are in the same boat as me: those who just want to tell their stories and make a home for their characters. I hope that in reading my newsletter you find a little bit of courage to keep pursuing your dreams. I hope you won’t feel so alone in the solitary pursuit writing often is.
In turning 24, I feel older for the first time. That may be silly to say, but this birthday has an energy of change around it. I’ve changed quite a bit since I turned 23. My life has, too. But that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t need to change every now and then? I’ve got another year in my bones and more life to put into my writing. I don’t know what 24 will bring. But I do know what goals I have for this age.
I hope you’ll follow along for the adventure.
CARRIE SOTO IS BACK by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I first read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in early 2021 and I fell in love with TJR’s writing. The angst, the emotional push and pull of yearning, the romance…it all captivated me especially as a sapphic woman myself. Though I’m not a sports fan, I couldn’t resist picking this one up anyway (hello, shiny cover). The quick-pace of the opening pages and the anticipation of Carrie deciding to come out of retirement has me invested. I’m only on page 30 right now, but I have high hopes.
Love and Angst in Kingdom Politics
My current project, one that you’ve likely heard me talk about since early 2021 if you’ve been following me on Twitter, is a reimagining of Robin Hood. You can read more about it on my website. I stepped back from project in 2022 after losing 60+ pages of in-depth revisions. It was truly devastating. But since I’ve picked it up again, I’ve been reminded just how much this fantasy story of mine is a passion project.
It’s about love. It’s about finding who you are and never letting that person go. It’s about found family and protecting them at all costs. It’s about becoming.
When we first meet Wendy, the main character of Robin WIP, she’s angry. She’s just lost her best friend Ivy to murder and she doesn’t understand why the gods have allowed such a terrible fate. And the only suspect she has for Ivy’s murder is the criminal that’s been stealing from the rich and helping the poor: Robin Hood.
Wendy’s duty is at the core of her character. She knows she’s expected to be a good queen and she desperately wants to protect everyone in her kingdom. But grief is blinding and soon she finds herself trading her throne for a secret name in order to infiltrate Robin’s circle of friends. The goal is to gain his trust, and then capture him for Ivy’s murder.
Wendy has no idea what she’s to become. She knows who she think she has to be: the queen. But not who she wants to be. Soon after the snippet above, Wendy starts to realize that maybe people aren’t so black and white and Robin might just be innocent after all.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll even help her figure out who she wants to be.
While I paused revisions in January to work on applying to graduate school, I’m excited to jump back into writing. And I hope—one day soon—you’ll get to meet and love Wendy and Robin just as much as I do.
A Note on Writing
Not too long ago, I made a post with tips for writing that first draft. I thought a lot about what’s helped me be successful in my writing journey: finding my community, figuring out what kind of writing I’m most passionate about, and being consistent. In a world full of online noise, it can be hard to stay focused. We all compare ourselves right? We see someone’s book deal and long for our own. We read a paragraph that seems so much better than anything we could write. But comparison is a failure in itself. There’s a reason we feel so passionate about the stories we create and that’s because, in some way, the universe needs them. But business doesn’t work that way. The publishing industry is hard to admit that stories are needed—instead it’s about what will sell.
That’s where the advice “write for your audience comes in.” Write what the market needs. Write what will generate attention and income. That’s what we hear constantly and the noise can be deafening. While I was reading Matt Bird’s THE SECRET TO STORY, I was struck by something he said early on: if the story is boring to you, then it will be boring to readers.
I agree. And while that’s advice we’ve all heard before, it made me think about the fact that we need the audience of our stories to also be ourselves. If we’re not head over heels in love with what we’re writing, then where is the story meant to go? We are our stories’ first audience. We are the first ons who are captivated by that character or that plot we created. So write for an audience—but write for yourself, too. Fall in love with your story first and let the rest take its path.
Whatever is going to happen will happen. Whatever we are meant to do, we’ll do. I don’t know what my 24th year will bring, but I hope it’s kindness, creativity, and new adventures. And I hope you all are kind to yourselves, too, in a world as hard-pressed as ours.
Thank you for reading Sweetbitter. Stay beautiful.
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