I am in an uncomfortable place right now. Home will be released in a few days, and I’ve been working on the next book in the Hidden series for a few weeks now, on and off, between revising Home. And, just like with Home, and with Broken before that, I’m in a slump. The words come sluggishly. Stubborn. It feels like I forgot how to put one word after the other, as if everything I’ve done up until this point has been a fluke. Clearly, I cannot write.
I’ll get over it. This is a normal part of my process, I’m starting to realize. I need a few days to let my subconscious sort through the plot. I’ll find my way. I’ll write hot again. But I need to get through this phase first.
While I’m stewing and remembering how to write, I’m catching up on my blog reading. This morning, one of my favorite authors EVER, the lovely Marjorie Liu, wrote a post telling her story about finishing her latest, Labyrinth of Stars (February 25th can’t come soon enough!!) and she invited us to share our stories about finishing our most recent work. So here’s mine:
I thought Home was finished back in early December. Put it aside, then read it again a couple weeks later.
The ending I’d written was too clean. Too perfect. And not at all Molly. Nothing is ever that simple for Molly. I was writing kind of a wish-fulfillment for her. And it just didn’t fit.
Scrap the final third of the book, start writing again, being true to the story and my characters. Stand aside and let the story unfold as it should.
I consumed ridiculous amounts of coffee. I listened to Eminem’s “Survival” on autoloop.
I had a few days where I wrote seven to ten thousand words. Those left me bleary-eyed and wondering if any of them would hold up once I looked at it again. When I finally wrote the final words, I was sitting at my desk, in the same seat in which I’ve written the entire Hidden series, and I felt drained, yet excited. I was full of nervous energy, energy that I had been putting into my writing. I didn’t know what to do with it. I ended up shoveling snow, folding laundry. Cleaning under the furniture.
Trying not to obsess over whether I’d just messed the book up or not.
The good news is that when I did look at it again a week later, the words felt true to me. I told the truest story I could, and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do. Just because my characters are fictional doesn’t mean they don’t have their own truths. They must. Otherwise, cardboard characters and cookie-cutter plots result.
Wrote more, revised like mad. And now, I’ll just wait until Monday, until my first readers start reporting back, and hope that the ending felt as true for you as it did for me.
So, there’s my story. Not the most exciting thing, maybe, but I know I fought for every word.