2014 has certainly been one of my toughest writing years to date.
In 2013 I was riding high after publishing Sunbolt in June and then beating out a (pretty bad) draft of it’s sequel, Memories of Ash. As 2013 was closing out, I started work on a totally new project while my beta-readers took Memories of Ash to town.
Fairy Tales You May Never Read
In the first months of 2014, I focused on writing another fairy tale retelling. This was for a planned anthology with the other (fantastic) writers over at The Runaway Pen. While the anthology has yet to come to fruition, I sure did beat my head against a wall trying to get this fairy tale right. I tried, oh I tried, to write The Princess and The Pea. I mean, folks, what an absolutely absurd story–its ripe for so many interpretations. Is she really a princess? Does the prince really not care how his parents pick his bride? Are his parents actually trying to keep him single for the rest of his life? Does she want anything to do with these completely neurotic royals? I wrote a short story that I loved, but it didn’t have enough meat to expand into the longer story wanted for the anthology. So I tried a new version. No luck. I tried a Regency-esque interpretation. Nope (plus, I wasn’t up to the research just for a novelette). Gah!
By late January, I’d lit on another story. Molly Whuppie. First of all, anyone ever heard of this story? It’s fantastic (and absurd) and also either Scottish or Irish (accounts differ, but they tend to lean towards Scottish). Three sisters left out in the woods because the folks can’t take care of them, which is a pretty typical premise. The youngest is… an amazing runner. She can run like the wind. Oh, and she’s smart and brave, and not only does she extract her sisters from an encounter with a murderous giant, but she brings peace to the local kingdom without killing said murderous giant, thus getting her sisters married off to the princes they love, and, yep, winning the hand of her chosen princeling too.
Not So Shameful Truth:
I have always wanted to write a story about a girl who likes to run. Not a modern day jogger, but a girl in some historic setting who just loves running. So, yeah, the minute I read this story, I had to write it. The draft is–decent. Nothing amazing, but that’s what drafts are.
By the middle of March I was ready to jump back into Memories of Ash. I’d given myself enough time away from the story to be able to see it clearly, plus I had all that amazing feedback from my beta-readers to work with. And then… life.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Me(n?)
As many of you know, my four year old went through a tough phase this year. By the end of March, I put my writing on hold in order to try to figure out how best to help her through the challenges she was facing. I took to journaling as the summer passed to help me think through things, and by September my daughter was doing much, much better and I felt ready to buckle down and get back to work. I missed writing, missed Hitomi’s world, missed waking up with scenes in my head. I just missed being a writer.
I had planned a summer release of Memories of Ash, and that had clearly passed by. I sat down and looked at my first (train wreck of a) draft, and thought, okay, I can do this. By the end of November I can easily get a decent revision put together.
Much More Shameful Truth:
I forgot how hard writing actually is. (See my previous blog post about that here.) Oh, and I think I got a little scared. The reader response to Sunbolt has been amazing and all I could have dreamed of–and I was so worried that my next story wouldn’t measure up. Yes, I know, I’m being silly, but there it is: we writers are not only human, but often silly humans.
I finally got my writing rhythm back sometime in November, and here we are, the end of 2014. I’ve written four almost completely different Chapter Ones for Memories of Ash, and I think I’ve found the right beginning. Yay! That’s two less tries than Sunbolt took me, which I consider a major win. I’ve also written five (mostly) new chapters to make up for the short cuts my beta readers called me on. And I’m about 40% through revisions. Its not as far along as I’d like, but then you probably feel the same way. The good news is its starting to come together now.
Hopes For The New Year
This coming year, I would like to get Memories of Ash out around summertime. Then I’d like to switch gears and hammer out a revision of A Darkness At The Door, that first story about Rae in the companion trilogy to Thorn, mostly because I love Rae too, and a lot of people have been asking for the rest of her story. (If you haven’t met Rae, you can pick up my free short story featuring her here.) And then it will be back to The Sunbolt Chronicles for Book 3…
Here’s to writing, and mommy-ing, and balancing it all, and to a wonderful new year!