Meet author Amanda Cherry. A good friend of mine who I have worked with before. Today, she tells us something most of us authors know but need to re-learn from time to time. Especially when writing the second or third (or, ahem, fifteenth) book.
Trust The Process.
That is a piece of advice all creatives hear at one time or another. It’s meant to be encouraging—to remind us that whatever mess we’re looking at can and will turn into the beautiful thing we’re intending to build. It’s a reminder that even the most exquisite painting likely started life as a rough sketch; that your favorite song probably started as a bit of melody stuck in a composer’s head or a catchy couplet scrawled into a notebook or onto a diner napkin.
Trust the process is the phrase that says: “The only way out is through, so keep going!”
The problem, when someone is new to creating things, is that the process is a stranger. And we’ve been conditioned all our lives not to trust strangers—especially not with things that are dear to us.The first time I traveled in Europe, we wound up taking an overnight train. The procedure on that train was for someone to collect all the passports in the evening so the railroad handles all the border crossings while the passengers sleep. This sounds good in theory, but in practice, it’s terrifying.
Here I was, in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, being told to surrender the one and only document that could prove my identity and my right to be there to a middle-aged woman in polyester pants.
I didn’t sleep so well that first night.
But the next morning my passport was returned to me over a cup of espresso, stamped with the names of the countries we’d passed through while we slept. All was well.
So the second time we took an overnight train, it was a little bit easier to hand my documents over—because I’d done it before, and everything had worked out fine. It turned out the person who collects the documents was in uniform—it just wasn’t my expectation of a railroad uniform. I recognized the uniform. I recognized the process.
By the third time I took an overnight train across several borders, I had zero anxiety left when asked to hand over my passport. Because I’d learned to trust the process.
Writing books has turned out to be a lot like that.
When I first had the idea for TIME & AGAIN, I had just released its predecessor (my debut) and I only had the vaguest idea of what I wanted the sequel to be. I knew I wanted a time travel story, and I knew I wanted a second chance romance.
But I had no idea of anything beyond that. Most critically, I had no idea who the time travelers were nor what they wanted with my main character.
It took me nearly five years to sit down and write this book in earnest. Because it took me finishing three more books, and seeing them published, to trust the process. Just like the overnight border crossing, my ability to get through draft after draft became familiar and trustworthy with time and repetition. And, sure enough, the answers revealed themselves as soon as I let myself sit down and do the work.
And I think y’all will enjoy the result.
Amanda Cherry is a Seattle-area queer, disabled nerd who still can’t believe people pay her to write stories. She is the author of five published novels as well as TTRPGs, screenplays, and short fiction, and a cast member in the Dungeon Scrawlers GREYMANTLE game on Twitch. Her nonfiction writing has been featured on ToscheStation.net, ElevenThirtyEight.com, and StarTrek.com. Amanda is a member of SAG-AFTRA, SFWA, & Broad Universe. Follow Amanda’s geekery on Twitter, BlueSky & TikTok @MandaTheGinger or visit www.thegingervillain.com