A couple nights ago, after a movie and ice-cream with my husband (in the living room–because we have wakeful little people!) my husband and I started talking writing. This isn’t as random as it sounds, seeing as the movie was “Authors Anonymous.” I’m not recommending you see this movie unless you (a) really want to laugh at wannabe writers and those with author envy and (b) have nothing else you really want to see. Also, don’t expect to learn anything relevant about indie publishing from it. It gets better as it goes along, and it has its moments, but–well, this post isn’t a movie review. So, moving on…
My husband and I were talking writing. And I mentioned how often I see indie authors putting out two books a year, sometimes even more, but even the slow ones seem to put out one a year. Traditional publishing has its own brick-and-mortar publishing timeline, so it’s a bit hard to compare there. I guess I was just feeling a bit guilty that it’s going on two years that I’ve been working on Memories of Ash.
My husband, being the wonderful man that he is, pointed out that different authors write different kinds of books, and have different processes and different goals. I’m a perfectionist, and I won’t be happy unless I put out the best story I can. I also need to let stories gel, to write them and let them sit for months (or more) until I really, really know what it’s about and have stepped far enough back that I can view it all in perspective. And, of course, I’m a stay-at-home mom with little people: I only manage to write at night. That’s not my most productive time, so it’s slow going.
That time ruminating on my stories… that’s critical for me. Case in point: the night before our conversation, as I lay in bed thinking about Memories of Ash, trying to figure out what was missing, what I wasn’t getting right, I had a eureka moment. Mind you, I wrote the first draft of this book (then novella) five or six years ago. I’m on the second major revision and expect to have a third. And now, just now, I have finally figured out what is really driving Hitomi through this novel. Not the obvious drivers, but the deep-down, never-admitted motivator that really pushes her through this book.
I’m either that dense, and it takes me that long to unpack what I’m really writing about, or … well, I’m probably that dense. So yeah, this book couldn’t have been ready sooner, not without that time and perspective to get me to this point. And Memories is probably not that different from all my other books (including the half dozen or more drafts sitting on my hard drive). One day, as I get more efficient at revisions, I’ll be able to cycle through revisions, switching from one story to another and back again to give me that spacing. In the meantime, I’ll just remind myself that every writer does things a little differently, and it’s okay if it takes me a while.
So here’s to time, writer density, and eureka moments!