Stories and novels and terror, oh my!

Well, it’s been a while, readers. But there are reasons for that. Some of them are even good reasons.

The biggest is that I had edits back for Bloodchild, the concluding novel in the Godblind trilogy. They were pretty hefty, structurally, and there was one character whose plot line needed extensive work. And, of course, changing one plot line has repercussions. Ripples on a pond that conceal the crocodile coming to eat your face, pulling a single thread attached to the hem of your trousers and then the leg falls off… that sort of thing.

So I did a VERY intensive month of edits and rewrites, with huge portions of plot cut and replaced and a lot added in at the start to set up motivations and engender movement and highlight the stakes. It was tough, and after the trauma that was writing Darksoul, I wouldn’t like to guess at this point how the next round of edits will look.

I suppose a lot of authors will do an edit and say, yep, that’s it. Finished. And it will be.

Not me. Although I’ve been writing for years, I’m still learning how to write in a way that makes a satisfactory book. All those years taught me a lot, but because I never showed anyone my work, I only progressed in plot and structure in fits and starts. Having an agent and editor has sped up that process for me, but I’m still learning to recognise both plot holes, structural inaccuracies and, crucially, good work. It means that I don’t dare think a book’s finished until my editor tells me it’s finished – because at this stage in the proceedings, she knows more than me. I hope that I’ll get the chance to write more books for money and during that process I’ll learn to recognise a finished book myself, but until then, my publishing director extraordinaire has that salutary honour.

I need to learn distance and objectivity. I need to be able to see the whole plot better. I need to be able to do so many things. I’m getting there, but it’s a slow process.

So with that in mind, I’m pretty much trying not to think about the fact that the latest draft is with my editors and what the next round of edits might be. Will it be Darksoul all over again? Will it be – it’s good, but you’ve missed the point here? Will it be – no, go away and do it again and by the way we’re delaying publication? Will it be another crisis of confidence and prophecies of my writing career dying before it’s even weaned?

Who knows? Certainly not me.

And tied to that is that second reason for my long absence from my own blog: my new book. The first full draft of book 1 in a new series is now with my agent and two beta readers and all the usual terrors apply: it’s different, but is it different enough? Have I wildly misjudged my abilities? Have I written something problematic that should never see the light of day? Are the characters too like my current trilogy’s characters? Is my writing career dying before it’s even weaned?

Don’t get me wrong – writing is fun. It’s just all this other shit that goes with it that’s turning my hair grey (and boy is it grey under this dye). So I’ve been beating myself up pretty hard over this new book for a variety of reasons, and sending it off was actually quite frightening. As I’ve blogged before, getting my first publishing deal was a dream come true. Getting a second publishing deal is now a matter of financial necessity, and that changes the stakes dramatically.

That doesn’t mean I’m writing more commercially – or at least I don’t think I am. If anything, I’ve taken more risks with this new book, risks that could backfire hugely and mean that it never sees publication. And if that’s the case, then I need to write a brand new one, and before that’s done, the money will run out and I’ll have to get a real job again (ugh). So to say there’s a lot riding on this is an understatement. That adds a certain … frisson to the proceedings.

And now I’m having a panic attack. Okay, bear with me. Back in a sec…

Alright. Phew. Where was I?

Oh yeah. And then finally, there are some short stories I’m working on – commissioned and speculative. There’s one I’m having stupid amounts of fun with that I’ll be submitting to try and get into an anthology by an indie press, another for a charity anthology, and I’ve got a couple of ideas to pitch to another publisher whose IP I’m working in. More news on that soon.

I’m aiming to be more productive this year, not just for monetary reasons but to refine my craft and establish myself as someone who might be here for the long haul, but right now everything depends on the feedback for the new book, so until I get that I’m going to polish up my short stories, work on the overarching plot structure for the new series, and then start a novella. Oh, and not think about Bloodchild or the edits incoming like a ICBM zeroed in on my location.

If there are laurels, I can’t find them to sit on and they look pretty uncomfortable anyway. I’d probably be allergic…


Currently watching: Killing Eve; Star Trek: Discovery

Currently reading: Ash Kickers, Sean Grigsby; The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher

Currently listening: Wild, Joanne Shaw Taylor


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