Friday, May 11, 2012

Experiences Writing Five Books

Every book is different. Some books pour out. Some books sputter along painfully. Some need a little revision and some need a lot.

And sometimes, as the writer, I forgot just how agonizing the process was in the past. I am currently working on what will be my fifth published book--FIFTH! That number still shocks me. I am on my way to having a shelf of my works! But anyway. Like the previous four, the fifth comes with both hair-tearing moments, and good ones.

I've had no trouble getting words on the page, so that's a plus. But I struggled for a while with a serious case of this-sucks-and-I-don't-know-any-of-the-characters-itis (which just became the clunkiest word I have ever invented). Even though it is a SEQUEL, which means I SHOULD know the characters, only they seem to want to be different people than in the first book, which is making me look back at the first book like WHAT...did I have you right to begin with?

And so on.

Sometimes at events I'll be asked what the process of writing a book is like, and I've seen other authors answer the question as well, and some of them say, well, it's always difficult for the first 25k words and then the middle is better, or, the beginning is wonderful and shiny and then the middle is awful, or the whole thing is awful but you just do it anyway, or...whatever.

For me, it is always different.

Magic Under Glass: This was the second book I wrote, but the first I wrote while looking for an agent and having some real information about the industry. My first "professional" book, if you will. I wrote the first version quickly and joyfully. Then I had to go back and rewrite it twice. Each rewrite also came quickly, and just slightly less joyfully. The hard part was the in-between-rewrites times when I was thinking about why the book kept getting rejections and what it might possibly need, and not understanding.

Between the Sea and Sky: Second book. Written under huge stress of having sold first book. I loved the characters and the world they resided in. I lived in it, mentally, while writing. It was a lovely place. But when it came to writing the book? It was horrible. I wrote very slowly. I worked on that book for a whole year, and it isn't even a long book! I didn't have any fun until we got to revisions. I LOVED revising this book.

Magic Under Stone: Had a lot of trouble with the beginning. Getting back into the groove of the characters and trying to re-establish everything. This book clicked after I had a dream about Ifra that showed me who his character really was. Everything else fell into place around him, and I ended up mostly enjoying the writing for the second half. Revisions were very minimal.

Dark Metropolis: Another book written quickly, while dealing with a small string of deaths. This is the only book I've written from a place of catharsis and, frankly, some fear and despair. I wrote it as a way of dealing with those emotions, and I did enjoy writing it, except I was having an existential crisis the whole time. After it sold I kind of dreaded revisions because I'd gotten the emotions that drove the book out of my system and didn't really want to revisit them! But my editor wanted a sequel and forcing myself to come up with something helped me to expand the world in my mind beyond the emotions that drove the first book, and that has helped a lot.

Dark Metropolis sequel: I had huge problems with this book at first because, as I said, initially I didn't want to revisit the world. But now it's been starting to click and become exciting for me, and the other night I had a dream about one of the characters, which, for me, can be a HUGE piece of the writing puzzle (see Magic Under Stone!). Also this is the first time I've gotten to work on a sequel while still doing edits on the first book, which is kind of a cool thing! Working on one compliments the other, and vice versa.

So, if you are writing your first book or two and you think you know how it's going to roll now? Well, maybe not. But that's part of the fun.

1 comment:

  1. I can really relate to this! Every book is so different. Once I wrote a 65k novel in 2 crazy and sleepless weeks, if you can believe it. The characters and story came straight from my heart and it was as easy as sitting down and plunging in. I could barely eat or sleep I was so excited to get that story out. And then some books take years...I wish they were all super easy.