Monday, March 28, 2016

State of the Writing

So. Writing. Yeah.

This past fall I was actually writing a lot, but suffering from commitment issues. I kept switching between three different projects, and dithering over which was the "real" one to focus on. I see now that I was feeling a little gun-shy. Now that I've finished a novel, I know what a long, hard haul it's going to be. I see people going through something similar when they're deciding to have a second child.

In January my life fell apart a little bit and for a while there writing was the last thing on my mind. I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that the following shit all happened within a two-month span:

*long-estranged family member re-entered my life
*The Husband's illness flared, he went on disability for a month, and contracted c.diff
*The Son had strep
*my car died and we had to buy a new one
*the first floor of our house flooded in a freak winter rainstorm
*our sewer line stopped functioning and we had serious water issues for over a month, leading to laundry and personal hygiene issues that are best glossed over
*more family drama

The upside is that in the middle of all this I was pretty much desperate to escape the stress/disease/filth, so dove back into writing head-first. I've been working away on Mender for the last two weeks. I have 7,500 words so far, and (fingers crossed, knock wood) I'm pretty stoked about how it's unfolding so far. I'm definitely writing the exact book I'd like to be reading right now, which is never a bad thing.

I'm not setting word count goals at the moment. For one thing, I'm still dicking around with the outline and making changes. As usual, the first 1/3 or so of the story just poured out of me when the idea for the book solidified; if past experience is any indictor, this chunk of the book won't change much in future drafts. But, also as usual, I'm floundering around trying to figure out the rest of the story. I tend to jam way too many events into my plots, I think because I'm nervous about Not Enough Happening, which can lead to sagging middle syndrome. But instead, I wind up with Too Much Happening, which leads to not having the space to fully develop all my story threads. In the case of Mender, this is further complicated by the fact that it's the first book in a quartet. If I manage to sell this one, I'll have to live with the consequences of plot decisions I make now for three more books. And I recently figured out that I'd stuffed a whole story line into this book that really belongs in the next one, which means I've had to dismantle the plot yet again and try to put the pieces back together into something that's a gripping, action-packed yarn, yet fits into a book of 100-120 K.

The other reason I'm not rushing at the moment is that I'm trying to get the tone right. The tone of Mender is quite different from the tone of The Owl Bearer. I recently read 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron, and she says that one of the things she has to have nailed before she begins the book is the voice of it. "Nothing is more pervasive than tone," she writes, and oh my dog is that ever the truth. The approach I took with TOB-- just getting the story down and worrying about making it "sound good" later-- was fine in theory but in practice led to more extensive revisions than I ever want to do again. So I'm fussing over the opening chapters of M, trying to make sure I've nailed the sorta-historical Fantasy tone I'm going for.

And that is the State of the Writing. Peace out.


  1. Ye gods and little fishes, that's a rough winter. I'm so sorry you went through all that at the same time. I hope you're doing all right, and I'm glad to hear you've been writing again! Bring on the tangled story brambles!

  2. Thanks! I'm feeling good about the brambles, tangled though they are.