So… I thought I’d post a little update here. Not just a follow-up to what we talked about a few weeks ago (though I would like to thank everyone who jumped in with comments and your own stories, as it’s good to know that sharing was helpful to some of you), but to give you a peek into what’s happening in my wee story workshop right now.
My work has been fairly predictable for the past few years as I focused on getting the Bound Trilogy finished. It was narrow in focus, high-pressure, and a huge learning experience for me as a new author who never really expected anyone to read my first book. Things are changing, and I’m so excited to talk a little about what I’ve got on the go right now.
Into Elurien, my contribution to the very exciting Skeleton Key Book Series, is with a capable editor right now. The same one who edited At Any Cost for me, actually.* This project pushes the upper limit of suggested word count for the series, but keeping it small was still a big challenge for me. I wanted to satisfy my readers’ expectations for worldbuilding, character development, quality writing, and exciting plot while I satisfied the series’ demands of romance, length, and subject matter, and this one didn’t want to be a smaller story. But I did it, and I love it.
I finished post-critique edits for that about three weeks early, which means I’m expecting a bomb to go off during editing that will leave me with massive clean-up to do, but I’ve got time to deal with that. Into Elurien will be available for pre-order mid-May and release in June, along with a few dozen other books by amazing authors. Watch here for information on the cover reveal (though if you know where to look, you might be able to find it early!), and for more details on the story as pre-order day gets closer.
So that brings us to what I’m working on now.
It’s big. Not in word count (I’m aiming for under 100K words), but in the magnitude of the challenge. It’s a story that has its backstory roots hundreds of years before the main plot, told in third person POV–not my first choice, but necessary if I want to make the structure that I want work properly. It’s a little dystopian in mood and theme, basically utopian in practice (except for one wee, horrible detail), and involves a style of storytelling that people are either going to love or hate.
And right now, it’s a massive challenge. I started drafting, scrapped most of the 11,000 words I wrote in that first week, stepped back, and took another week to get to know my characters better through a questionnaire so deep that I don’t think I could answer all of the questions for myself. I am finding it difficult to find their voices when they’re not speaking onto the page (I really miss first person!), but I’m getting there. I’m back to the writing now, and it’s going a bit more smoothly.
This is one of those stories that’s so amazing in my head that there’s no way I’ll replicate it perfectly on the page. That’s been true of every story I’ve ever written, but it’s really staring me in the face this time. I expect this one will teach me a lot during the revision process, and more through edits. That’s always the goal, you know. I have a whole lot to learn about the art and craft of storytelling, and doing it (and getting professional feedback) is the best way to learn.
It’s definitely a passion project, and I’m writing it because I’m in love, not because it seems like it’s going to make me more money than anything else in the idea file. It’s not on a tight deadline. Not hotly anticipated like a sequel to something else would be. It’s something I can take my time with (within reason; edits are booked for February), experiment with, and release because it’s a story I think deserves to be told.
And it’s going to be amazing. In terms of the base idea of the story, it’s probably most exciting, high-concept one I’ve had. I just need to figure out how to make that promise a reality on the page.
(Side note to anyone who has The Best Story Idea Ever and thinks they could write a bestseller if they only had the time: The blockbuster idea is the easy part, and on its own means nothing. I know, I was sad to hear that, too. But great ideas really are a dime a dozen. A CANADIAN dime, even.)
But I can’t think about the end right now, about releasing it and how excited my regular readers will be about this thrilling, heartbreaking, twisty and turny, myth-topian thing. Right now it’s one day at a time, getting the words out. I’m on a bad cycle for headaches, which means my brain’s not working, and I’m still dealing with depression and anxiety (though I am getting them under control). My focus and attention are almost nonexistent. That means taking it slow when I need to, forgiving myself for not hitting my usual 5,000+ words a day (yesterday I only got 1800), and letting things develop at their own pace.
It’s what I want, right? Less pressure. More time to let things stew and develop. More time for my subconscious to make connections within the story like it did when I was building the world that Bound took place in. But it’s scary, too. Momentum is considered such a desirable thing in this industry that taking time off or slowing down feels wrong.
But it’s necessary for me. I’m learning my limits. I’m learning that I recently pushed myself past them, and I’m still recovering from that. And I’m learning how to do this thing my way. It’s not the “here’s how to sell a million books on Kindle” way, but it’s mine.
Pushing harder isn’t always the answer. We’ll see how getting back to the place where writing was my playground works out for this one. 🙂
*And thank goodness for Sue Archer, because my regular editor is now booking a year in advance! Hence the February deadline for the new project…