This week is just full of excitement. First the ARC’s, then the Tor catalog, and now, I’m pleased to say, the completion of another manuscript. For the last few months I’ve been working on another young adult story, and since I’m notoriously terribly at talking about what I’m writing (“Well there’s this guy…and he…uh…he meets this girl…um…and then there’s this fight and a lot of stuff blows up and…well, that’s the end.”), I’ll just give you a few highlights. There’s a factory, some terrible working conditions, and three people who are brave enough to rise up and fight the man. And, of course, a love story, because it seems I’m unable to write anything without at least a little bit of kissing.
The research for this story was less than romantic however. Social injustice in its various forms is a hot button with me, and exploitation really makes my claws come out. Child labor is hazardous and often violent and it reeks of manipulation and abuse. I’ll stop there before smoke begins to pour out of my ears.
*Steps down off soapbox*
I didn’t just write this story because the topic interested and frightened me, I wrote it because I had finished the second book in the trilogy, and was doing revisions on it while at the same time doing line/copy edits for A5. It’s a very strange place, Revisionland. First of all, doing revisions on two books simultaneously confuses my brain – the things Ember (my main character) does in the sequel she could never do in the prequel because she lacks the experience, the insight, the worldview. Her development and character arc are completely different in the second book vs. the first. She acts differently, talks differently. Her relationship with Chase is in a different place. Confused? Welcome to my world. Going back and forth twists my brain into a pretzel.
But more than the confusion, working through Revisionland makes me ultra critical. Not of others, but of myself. My agent and editor are fabulous, don’t get me wrong. Really supportive and encouraging. But one can only sort through so many corrections before starting to believe that everything one does is wrong. In Revisionland, I become hyperaware of the things I say. I think I’m always missing the point in a conversation – that I’m too limited to figure out what’s actually going on – and that no one can understand me. It’s as if I’m speaking another language, one I don’t even totally understand. I become withdrawn and a little paranoid and totally self-conscious. And because this feels like crap, I’ve developed a strategy for managing the revision blues.
Write something new.
Working on a new project reminds me that I actually am creative, not some hack who can’t get anything right just because I missed that huge plot hole or left a character flat as a pancake. A new work-in-progress reminds me how much I love writing, how a new world is waiting just beyond the borders of reality to be created and explored. It puts me back in control, and makes me feel out of control. It renews my strength and fills my soul up with a chocolate/first kiss/salsa dancing/caffeinated kind of happiness.
And this latest project was a wonderful distraction.
I wrote like a madwoman right up until the day we moved, and if you can believe it, I had to close up shop ONE CHAPTER before the end. I thought it would kill my momentum, but it actually ended up being better. I got to hold onto it a little longer; it remained perfect in my mind. When I finished this week I had myself a little moment of silence, because now, if it goes on, it will undoubtedly be proved imperfect. When I read it again, I’ll see all my typos, and tangents, and inconsistencies. It will never again be so flawless.
I think I’m going to savor the joy a little longer before I do my first read. Let myself be fleetingly brilliant before reality takes over. Let myself be sad about adding those last few lines that closed up my newfound world. And say goodbye.