I know I said I’d blog every other day, but since tomorrow’s post is planned and this one was too good to pass up, I just have to do it today. I already finished revising chapter thirteen of Stolentime during the time I’m usually doing my blogging, so it doesn’t hurt for me to blog today. I suppose I should revise another chapter, but I’m a one a day girl. My brain has to be fresh and ripe for the plucking to do any type of revising. Once it starts to slow down, those revisions are not going to be as superb as they would be with a fresh brain. I should also probably be editing for my client, but I’ll get to it after this.
Libba Bray, my favorite author of all time, wrote an intense blog post. Currently she is struggling with book #2 in her Diviners series–struggling really bad, like so bad it would make a newbie writer wonder why they’re not struggling as bad. But here’s her post: On Writing Despair (Juicebox Mix). At least skim her post. It’s a delicious little thing.
The gist of her post is that she writes by the seat of her pants, and because she does, it makes revising more difficult for her. But she also can’t outline, so she feels like she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. She has tried outlining. She mentions she has ten different outlines for book #2, but she can’t complete any of them.
I think all of us can relate to Bray. All of us. Each and every one of us who has ever sat down and began writing some form of a story. When Stars Rise, without an outline, was a terror to write. Georgia McBride edited each chapter as I wrote, and I ran into a roadblock with chapter three. I had to re-write it FIVE times to eventually find the heart of it. But even then, things grew more difficult. I finished half the book, sent it off to McBride, and it came back with hardly any editing. You would think this would be a good thing, but the less ink, the more work. My story had completely de-railed, so there was nothing she could say about it because a de-railed story is a de-railed story. It lost its heart. It veered away, and I was left doubting myself and wondering if McBride was suddenly doubting me because she loved my project so much in the beginning. But I had a conversation with her, and she mentioned that I needed to outline.
So I did.
I had Megan Curd edit the half that I changed, and she had no content comments–just line edits.
But, unfortunately, my gut was still going all over the place. There was too much information packed into the first half of the book. While Curd may have been able to keep track of all that, that didn’t mean other readers could, so I knew I had to shelve When Stars Rise. I had to bring out When Stars Die to make all the information in the first half work.
I took McBride’s edits from the sequel and applied them to the first book. I outlined. I wrote. I didn’t struggle. I re-wrote. I outlined against. I re-did scenes. I added scenes. And thus was born When Stars Die.
But I have to outline. My mind can’t be cluttered. While my surroundings can be a cluttered mess with shoes nailed to the wall, I cannot have shoes nailed to the wall of my mind or else I’ll flip.
Currently the revisions for Stolentime are going smoothly. I’m having no problem deleting scenes or adding scenes or getting rid of characters or better developing them. In fact, while I have a revision outline, I’m still making changes to the outline. I’m combining some chapters, getting rid of others, adding things to scenes, deleting scenes, and coming up with more things as I progress. I love the story, but I don’t fall into that romantic trap of being IN LOVE with the story.
But everything could change by the time I get to line edits. I plan to spend a week away from Stolentime to let it bake before going back to it. Then I’ll do line edits, then I’ll have somebody read it purely for content before I tackle more line edits or proofreading. During the week I’m going to spend away from Stolentime, I am going to do revision outlines for When Stars Rise because the way it’s currently written doesn’t match up well with When Stars Die, so things are going to need to be changed yet again. The sequel may still bring me grief because sequels aren’t easy. They have to be better than the first, and that can be extremely hard to do.
Heck, right now, I’m struggling with trying to come up with new book ideas, because what am I going to do after the third book in the Stars trilogy? I don’t know, but I know in order to maintain a solid career, I’m going to have to come up with something, right?
5 thoughts on “On Writing Despair (The Dancing Writer Edition)”
Don’t fret too much about coming up with new ideas for novels. It will come to you. I find that the more I write, the more ideas I get. It’s when I stop that things dry up. One day you’ll be sitting there and the next thing you know you’ll be day dreaming about this person that you never met. That’s how I get my ideas. I find ideas are easy to come by, it’s getting them out of my head that’s the trouble.
I’ve got a concept. I want to write about a group of teen assassins, but I don’t have a story together at all.
Let me know if you want/need a brainstorming buddy. 🙂
Thanks, Amber, for this post–and for pointing to Libba Bray’s post. Very brave and funny and inspirational.