Girls Have to Shine!

Not Quite a Devil  is out today, and it got me thinking.

Why? Because it’s hitting the shelves after a pre-release launch week in which I did…absolutely nothing. 
Yes, that’s right! Today is release day (a big deal!), and I haven’t sent out a single email about Not Quite a Devil until this moment. Why not? It’s not because I don’t love this novella, because I do. It’s so hilarious, romantic, and heartwarming (yes, the leader of hell can have a heartwarming romantic story). It’s because after I got sick ten days ago during the release week for The Demon You Trust, everything fell a little apart for me…or a little together, depending on what you angle you take.

Since I am all about trying to stay positive and make the most of this gift of life we have, I am going to go with “everything fell a little together” approach.
See, I wasn’t just sick that day. It took more than a week to really get better, so I really had to step back from all sorts of extra doodads in my life, doodads like writing and sending newsletters and stuff that I love so much. It made me sad not to do them, so it got me thinking about writing, and how much I’d been loving it lately…and how I actually love it today in a way I have never loved it before. Ever.
I thought about that a lot while I was lying on the floor pondering how terrible I felt. Why has it taken me almost twenty years to TRULY fall in love with writing, the thing that my soul has always been meant to do? 
I realized that we, as women, are taught a lot of great things, and we’re taught a lot of shitty things.
One of the things we’re taught is to support others, as a mom, as a daughter, as a partner, as friend, or simply as a human being. We need to take care of others, make sure they are okay, and smooth their path whenever we can.
We are taught to do that at all costs…especially the invisible cost. The cost that no one ever dares protest, and that is the cost to our souls. Deep inside each and every one of us is a light that is meant to shine. It’s meant to shine into the darkest corners of our being and into the world around us.
But sometimes, when we shine our light, it doesn’t go so well. We piss people off. We let people down. And most of all, we feel like we let ourselves down. How can we be so selfish as to want to be/do/say anything that won’t serve the greater good, external to who we are? 
How can I, Stephanie Rowe, be so freaking selfish as to love the hell out of writing and want to do it simply because it makes me feel whole? 
For a long time, I justified my writing because I needed to earn money to support myself and my daughter. I was a single mom of a two-year-old when I went indie, and I was earning five thousand dollars a year from my traditionally published books. Anyone who has ever tried to support themselves know you ain’t getting too far on $5,000 a year. So, I wrote like a mother-f*cker. I published. I wrote more. I published more. I gave it everything I had, because, as a good mom, it was my duty to support my awesome little girl. It was a grueling grind, but I kept doing it because I was so damn terrified of running out of money. 
I wrote because it was what I did. Sure, I told people I loved it, but it was painful and terrifying and desperate. Not a lot of love going on there, folks, except for the rare times when I would get so immersed in a story that I would lose track of time and the world I was living in. Those were beautiful moments, but they were overshadowed by all the fear and obligation and money issues driving my writing. 
I felt so guilty writing, so guilty loving it, that I had to shut that down. I convinced myself that writing was a necessary evil, to the extent that I dreaded doing it. I felt guilty EVERY SECOND that I spent at the computer, guilty that I was working instead of doing all the other things that a mom should do. But I kept giving myself the right to write because I had to support us.
But over the last year or so, I’ve been doing a lot of internal work on my inner self. I finally saw that somewhere, somehow, I had lost the joy of writing. So, I started working to find it again, and I did. 
These last few months of going on all in with my aggressive publishing schedule and all my newsletters to you guys has been SO MUCH FUN! Every time I get up from the computer, I am SO happy, and I can’t stop talking about how much I LOVED everything I did.

Procrastination is gone. I practically run to the computer every day, and the moment I sit down, my fingers start flying across the keys. I’m SO HAPPY and I love writing so much. For the first time in my life, I finally admit to myself that I love writing so much, and that it’s so vitally important to my soul, even if I won the lottery today, I would keep on writing, because I LOVE It, and it makes me whole. 
But then I got sick. And I couldn’t shake it. Why was I so freaking sick? I could tell that something was off balance for me. What was it?
I realized something big, something important. I realized that the more excited I got about writing again, and the more I loved it, the more something was eating away at me, something invisible, toxic, and destructive. It was that voice that said that I, as a woman, as a mom, should not be writing simply because I love it.  I could have a career and write to support my family. That was acceptable. But to have a career that I was doing simply for the pure love of it, because it made me whole? Not. Okay. I should be made whole simply by being a mom, by being of service to others.
But I’m not. I’m more than that. I’m a woman whose soul needs to burn brightly, to be complete in ALL ways, not just halfway, and that means i need to write.
I realized I was actually scared of how much I was loving writing, scared that it would turn me into a horrible person who forgot the names of those I loved because I never emerged from my office except to eat and drink. I had become so stressed about how much I was loving writing that I actually made myself sick.
Isn’t that crazy? But it was really happening. 
It made me think of Serena Williams, best tennis player in history, who has been open with her struggle with how to fit in tennis now that she is a mom. She feels guilty every second that she is away from her baby. It’s as if we, as women, shouldn’t be okay being independent badasses who deserve to fuel our soul on our own.
Well, we do. You do. I do. We are warm, complex, amazing creatures who are capable of finding that balance of being there for whose we love, and still going all in on something amazing that we do JUST FOR US. We deserve it. You do. I do. We all do.
After I figured this out, and gave myself permission to have faith in myself that I could love my writing, and still be able to be a great mom, I started to feel better. I spent this past weekend focusing on family since it was a holiday weekend, instead of writing emails and working on release week things for Not Quite a Devil. It was my choice, learned after the burnout that got me sick in the first place. It made me happy to do so.
But now it’s Tuesday, and I am back, and I am relishing the truth that I work because I love it, and that alone is enough reason to do it. The fact that I also get to pay my bills? An added bonus, for sure. 
I no longer work for the money.
I work for the meaning, and then money follows. That feels SO much more authentic, so much more my truth. 
So, now, here we stand, on release day for my new book. I’m healthy, feeling good, and full of love for this glorious gift of writing that I give myself. I wrote this novella because I love the Immortally Cursed series so much, and I love the romance between Satan and Iris that spans the entire series in the background. 

Not Quite a Devil was born as a little bonus for Immortally Cursed  because I wanted to share more inside details on the romance between Iris and Satan, and how it came to life. But that little snippet was so rich with warmth, humor, and sass that it turned into a full novella. The novella was so exciting and fun that I then realized it had to become the first book in its own series, which then, in turn, spawned bonus scenes that are so freaking fun. Love kept making the story bigger and giving it more life, and that is why it turned out so fantastic and fun. Every single word of this story was written because I loved doing it. No obligation. No rules. Just because I love these two characters so much that I couldn’t stay away from them.  

What better reason is there to write, than for the pure love of it? None. 
I admit now that I write for my soul, because it makes me whole, and because I love it. I own my need and my love for creating, and it feels good. I’m going to write a lot more words from this place of pure love and pure joy. And I hope you get love and joy when you read it!
Happy release day, and happy “you are awesome and your soul deserves to shine” day (which is every day of your life).
Peace out.

PS If you want to find out more about this super fun romantic romp, you can find the deets on Not Quite a Devil at these eTailers:

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