Writing, Inc.

So, Queen of the Skies on LJ asked me how my writing was going, but I figure my answer to her comment would’ve been too long, and I might as well turn it into its own post.

Though few of you out there would recognize the title, or have heard much about it, I wrote Thunderbird (you’d recognize it as Biohazards), polished it off, sent it to my beta readers, and even received feedback through a mentorship with a well-known author in SF&F. The feedback I received was very positive, with encouragement that it was ready for publication, and I submitted it to the rounds. I was also encouraged by the author to write the synopses for the two books that were meant to follow Thunderbird, which I did, but because I don’t want to waste time on something that might not sell, I didn’t write the books themselves.

There was one caveat. The style in which I wrote Thunderbird was very different than the previous books I’d written. It was harder, grittier, with a chopped-up first-person voice that I love, love, love, even now, a year later. But it’s so different and so rough that I can understand this book would be (and was) difficult for my beta readers to get into from the get go. Because I knew it was difficult — because one of my beta readers came back and told me that he absolutely hated the main character, but couldn’t find anything wrong with the character’s motives or actions, he just didn’t like her one bit, even though he couldn’t stop reading because he needed to know what happened next — I braced myself for a very hard round of queries.

Love or hate, the main character is an antihero — not because she’s a bad guy, but because she’s afraid. Maybe in some ways that’s why she’s an easy character to love, or an easy character to hate, because she’s looking in the mirror and deep down in the abyss, and she doesn’t like what she sees, but she keeps on trying because the darkness rising is bigger than her.

The queries aren’t over. I’m not giving up on Thunderbird or the sister books that are meant to follow, but I’ve moved on while waiting to hear back and I’m still writing.

When I can.

The day job eats a lot of my brain. I’ve taken to turning off a lot of things after I get home from work so that I can write. My chat programs have always been my biggest distraction, so I rarely boot them up, especially these days when I’m really running short on time.

Once I had Thunderbird out of my system, I went back to The BookTM, also known as Neither Knight Nor Knave (or NKNK for short), because that book got so many agent bites I figured I could give it another rewrite to see if I could fix the problems and make it better and have it go the rounds.

I got as far as 60,000-some words before realizing that I’d need at least another 80,000-some words to get a complete book the way I was writing. The writing was better, the concept a bit stronger, the characters had drive and motivation and challenges, and the two main characters had their own voices in their own chapters, but, Oh My God, this had become the Book That Won’t Die and writing 100 words a day, never mind 1000, was hard, so hard, and I couldn’t do it anymore.

NKNK became KNK, or Knight And Knave.

So I went to hide in a play-by-post forum-based role-playing-game for Vampire the Masquerade where I got to write about characters I cared about, people who’d had a completely different set of challenges, with tormented pasts and disastrous backgrounds and difficult (un)lives. I watched my writing get confident again, I saw it get stronger, I learned how to say a whole lot without saying much, and I got my brain wrapped around the concept of complicated plots again. The best encouragement I got to write came from the ST of the game, who bounced with excitement every time I posted something new.

And every now and then I would look at the document that was perpetually open in my dashboard, and poke at it with a sharp stick, and sometimes I would write a thousand words while other times I’d just minimize Scrivener instead because I couldn’t stand to look at it.

It wasn’t working. I knew it wasn’t. In the meantime, I’d ekked another 10,000-some words — it took over two months, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

I don’t remember when the epiphany came to beat me senseless or when I suddenly became hooked again, but I scrapped 70,000-some, nearly 80,000-some words of brilliant writing and great story and started over from scratch. From scratch. I didn’t look at the 70-80K I’d already written. I had new words from the get go.

It’s one month later, and NKNK isn’t called KNK anymore, and it doesn’t have a title at all, but I’m 60,000-some words in, GOOD words, with everything I want out of a story, knowing where I want to go to get to the end, and plenty of room to go back and tweak a few things that I realized were missing from the beginning.

And I’m happy. I know what the next book in this series will be about. I know what the next book I’m going to write will be about.

So that’s where I am with the writing.

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