How I crushed the writing of “Crushing It”

Crushing It

It was 2021, and I had just finished writing Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers with Éric. We’d gotten feedback from the first beta reader, and it was effusive.

I was writing short stories for our Short Story Collection (currently on submission) and I thought, “I’d like to write something about Kennedy’s younger brother, Tommy. I wonder what his story is.”

I decided he had to come to Westmeath, and thought it would be cool to write about the tech side of the city. I already had a built-in friend for Tommy in Carter, from Assassins, and I was looking forward to writing more of his character, especially after some of the short stories I had written. I added Elyse, Rachel’s younger sister, and thus the trio was complete.

Beyond that, my jot notes were the classes during the March Break camp at Door Tech, and that was it.

I started writing during “March” Break, which was in April in 2021. I wrote pretty much the entire thing on my phone, thumb-swiping as I nursed my youngest to sleep. It was taking literal hours for sleep to come, so I had quite a bit of dedicated writing time.

I had told myself, before I started writing, that this wasn’t going to be a romance. The trio would be friends.

Wow did a curveball ever get thrown my way when Tommy’s reactions to Carter were so shy and awkward. I was super confused at first. Why was he reacting like that?

And then I figured out that he had a crush!

I panicked.

I’m not gay. I didn’t know if I should be writing his story since I wasn’t gay!

So I messaged my publisher and asked his opinion. I believe I also talked to a couple other queer authors to ask what they thought as well, but I don’t remember who.

The unanimous response was “Go for it! He’s your character. If he’s gay, then that’s what you should write!”

I went back to add a little bit more obvious reactions, and then continued writing. I got to the end of the camp, sent Tommy home, and added the novella to the collection of completed works.

Halfway through July, I told Éric that I wanted to write fanfic for Tommy. He thought that was hilarious and told me to write actual content.

So I started writing a short story about what happened to Tommy after he got home. At this point, I introduced Faith.

And I got an idea to have them go to a STEM competition. A province-wide competition that would take place in Toronto, so I could have the boys meet up again.

My jot notes expanded to include the competition topics. (If you’re keeping track, that means my jot notes were the sum of a list of classes and a list of competition activities.)

And I wrote. I was still writing at night while nursing, thumb-swiping on my phone. I would guess that 90% of this book was written in this way.

I did research into the science behind things. I got help from Éric, my mom, and my sister for various topics (especially the coding!).

And then one day I did a word count.

I sheepishly went to Éric and told him, “I think I’m writing a book.”

He said, “I know.”

Oops.

And that’s how I accidentally wrote a book!

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version