I Suck, Say My Characters to Me

We are never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever going to finish this book. Despite my jubilation yesterday, it is never going to happen.

We added a new chapter today. Yes, “we.” Remember–me and the characters. I was going to say “my” characters but they’re their own now. I just built the bridge that brought them here.

So Semantha (she’s the cave city girl, in case you don’t know) pointed out that there’s this gaping hole between what happens to her in captivity and when we next see her in glorious battle. I explained, gently, that I patched the climax together the first time, then had to rip it apart and re-stitch it the second time, and then figure out a denouement. I know it’s rough, I said. But I’m doing my best.

Well, you’re doing it wrong, she says, and rolls her eyes. Just stop. Give me the keyboard. Yeah, thanks.

So now the book is three pages longer. And we’re ten pages further back in it.

Semantha’s new chapter probably needs editing, too. (Ya think? Says Semantha. I’m only fifteen. You’re the writer, and it’s still better than what you did. So edit it, then.)

We are never going to be done.


They Speak for Themselves

This morning, I wrapped up my revision work at 26 pages from the end and celebrated: I’m almost there.

This afternoon the manuscript called to me again. I wanted to re-read the beginning, the page I know is pretty good because of its reception with people I trust.

Then I read the next page, the beginning of the main character’s narrative. It was meh. Still. After all those hours of work, Jed’s narrative was still meh.

So I rearranged the first two paragraphs, let go of my original idea for the beginning, grounded the opening more thoroughly, and let Jed’s voice flow, free from my private agenda.

And it’s better. Much better. Like, really, really good.

I read those new paragraphs aloud to Carey. I read them aloud to the kids. They agreed: It’s better. Like, really, really good.

So I did the entire first chapter again. I let go of my agenda, my ideas about how the story should be told. Removed my voice and let Jed speak for himself. And it’s better. Much better. Like, really, really good.

And then I realized I have to do the whole book again. One more time. Am I just bridging? Procrastinating? Putting off the inevitable shove into the world of my precious baby?

No. I’ve journeyed this far and now: My characters don’t speak to me any more. They no longer send me awkward transmissions across the bridge between real and not real for me to translate. No, they stepped across that bridge some time in the last few days. They exist. And they speak for themselves.

The book deserves one more edit with my characters directly at the keyboard. It goes fast, this way–no waiting for a crackling transmission, interpreting gaps in the sound, filling in the blanks with my own thoughts. So maybe I’ll be ready to send it out at the end of Christmas break anyway.

And when I do, it’s going to be really, really good. Not because of me, but because of them. Unless I’m the one who stepped across the bridge and into the unreal. Am I delusional? Entirely possible.

Photo credit: Who knows. It's been around social media so many times I'd be surprised if anyone does. If you, by some miracle, are a person who knows, please keep it to yourself so I don't have to get responsible with it. Or tell me, and I'll fix it, but you'll never ride my unicorn again.

Photo credit: Who knows. It’s been around social media so many times I’d be surprised if anyone does. If you, by some miracle, are a person who knows, please keep it to yourself so I don’t have to get responsible with it. Or tell me, and I’ll fix it, but then you’ll never ride my unicorn again. Your choice.

Letting Go

[No photo attached because I'm not a visual person and I just don't see the point or because I'm lazy or both]

The work is going faster than I expected. I’m now thirty-one pages from the end. It’s a sweet, sweet feeling.

I’ll make good use of my holiday time, though. There’s plenty of smoothing I want to do even when this round of revisions is done–especially in the last few chapters, which were harder to write and are rougher than the earlier parts. There are some Easter eggs I want to drop in too, as well as some foreshadowing to add. Weather needs adjusting and probably some mood-building to be done.

The list goes on and on and I’m faced with the problem of knowing, at some point, I’ve got to let go. It’s hard.

Regardless. At the end of next week, one week from today, I will let go. That is the plan. Whatever state it’s in, that’s when I will let go. Send my baby out into the universe. Or at least out to my beta readers.