It started slowly. You were unsure and didn’t want to commit yourself to anything. You needed to take your time. You were enjoying yourself, but it was just a bit of fun. Or so you thought. The next thing you know, you’re counting the days until you can be together again. Every minute together is joy. Bliss. Comfort. You’re in love and nothing and no one can ever tear you apart.
Until one day, it happens.
Your favorite author lets you down.
You hope it’s just the once. An aberration. You give your author the benefit of the doubt. You pick up the next book with renewed hope and optimism, convinced that this time–this time—things will be different. The swoony, magical feeling will be restored. The relationship can be salvaged. All is not lost.
And it happens again.
You start making excuses. You blame yourself. It’s not the author’s fault. You’ve changed. You’ll try harder. Just one more try.
And it happens again.
Finally, you have to admit to yourself that somehow, some way, somewhere along the line, the author you loved is now the author you have to break up with. And, still, you dither. You know it’s the best thing for both of you. You need to do it before you start bad-mouthing the author to others and making an @$$ of yourself. You talk to a couple of friends; lay out your reasoning and hope they reassure you that you’re making the right choice for yourself. And, if they think you’re being too harsh, you sternly remind yourself that letting the author go is the healthy, adult thing to do. You need to do what’s right for you, not what others think you should do.
So, you break up. You let the author go, free to make someone else happy. You’re doing okay. You have other authors you care about and spend your time with them. True, it’s not the same. They don’t make you feel the same way. But different is okay.
Slowly, you find yourself healing from the break. You start flirting with other authors–some you once considered beneath you, others you thought were out of your league. You get back in touch with authors who had drifted out of your life long ago, trying to recall why that relationship failed.
You’re moving on. You’re happy. You have other authors, other books to fill your time. Maybe you’ve even decided to try writing a book yourself, to capture that missing magic in a different way.
Then, one day, it happens. Out of the blue, you see something reminding you that the author you left behind has a new book coming out. And you’re tempted. Oh, how you’re tempted. Surely this one won’t disappoint? Whatever it was that made you leave couldn’t have been that bad. You overreacted. You blew things out of proportion. You used to be so happy together, dammit. Why can’t you be happy together again? You’ve experienced much worse since then.
To you I say: Be Strong.
I speak from experience. Yes, you’ve read worse authors since the big break, but you’ve also read better. Going back now would only lead to disappointment. Or maybe not. Maybe this book brings back the magic. But, chances are, you’ll be disappointed somewhere down the line. Remember that you broke up with this author for a reason. Remind yourself of that reason. If you’re still feeling tempted, pull an old favorite off the shelf and give it a re-read. (NOT one by this author, though, for goodness’ sake. Don’t start down that road.) Ask friends for recommendations. Or, in the worst case scenario, go out somewhere until the feeling passes. (I wouldn’t normally recommend going out, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)
You can do this. You can move past the temptation. You deserve awesome and your ex-author was no longer giving you awesome. Going back won’t change that. Move forward.
There is something better for you out there. There is an amazing new author-reader relationship waiting. Just give it time. You’ll have to get through a lot of “meh” before you get to “yes”, but the search is worth it.
- Redshirts by John Scalzi (Followed by a movie double feature of Galaxy Quest and Real Genius.)
- Anything by Susanna Kearsley
- Ditto for Jill Mansell (Though her upcoming Three Amazing Things about You may be my favorite of hers.)
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
- Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Graveyard Book audiobook by Neil Gaiman (The one narrated by Neil Gaiman, because I find his voice soothing and I love this story.)
- Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
- The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll with illustrations by John Tenniel and annotations by Martin Gardner
And, if nothing else works, you can contact me and I’ll help you get through it. I’ve been there. I sympathize. I’ll bring the wine and cheese and chocolate.
Billie Bloebaum works at Third Street Books and recently broke up with an author she’s loved for years. (She won’t name names because you may not feel the same about the author in question. Also, it’s just rude and unnecessary.) The author in question hasn’t announced a new book yet, but, when it happens, she may be calling you to talk her out of going back.