Monday, November 4, 2013

Progress

It's November, which in the writing world means it's NaNoWriMo.

Unless you're me, and then it's WahNoWriteMuch month.

Even if my life depended on it, I could not write a novel in a month. I am not that kind of writer. I admire those writers for their refusal to hit backspace, their dedication to writing thousands of words a day, and their ability to only look forward in the story. But I absolutely cannot do what they do.

I don't even know how to describe what sort of writer I am, actually. Is there a word for someone who spends four hours writing one paragraph, is consistently surprised by what's happening in her own story even though she is the one creating it, and only knows where the story begins and ends and doesn't have a clue how everything will unfold until she writes it?

Crazy. That's probably the best word I can come up with.  I am a crazy writer.

When I was writing Songs Eight Six, it was like I was two people. I was the Writer, and separately, I was the Rational-Thinking Bystander who was trying to figure out the best way to appease the Writer. Rational-Thinking me wanted to figure out the Writer's process so that I could improve it. I wanted to understand that beast so that I could tame her and ultimately find better balance in my life for writing the sequel than I maintained while writing the first book.

The Writer's biggest struggle was the word "progress." She would record how many words a day she would write, and then when that count inevitably went down due to editing or rethinking, the Writer would rage and lament at the loss of that number.

Eventually, Rational-Thinking Bystander understood that this is all part of the writing process. That exploring where a story could go, and then taking it somewhere else instead, is still progress. It's trial-and-error, process of elimination, loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong and sometimes discouraging--but it's still progress.And though it's not how I prefer my brain works... that's the kind of writer I am.

Explaining this to the Writer was much harder than it should have been because the Writer was very stubborn. She was so stubborn, in fact, that she was rushing to finish SES for the sake of being done with it back in June of 2012. She knew something in the story wasn't working, but she just kept forcing it for the sake of progress. And she no sooner celebrated her achievement of 100,000 words that Rational-Thinking Bystander had to break it to her that 50,000 of those words needed to go.

Half. Of. The. Book.

Deleted.

Eleven months later, the Writer finished writing a much better story.

Rational-Thinking Bystander me has been put in charge of the sequel, and Writer me is very concerned about how long it's going to take to finish it with her at the helm. But, I feel much calmer this way, and I hope that without the pressure I felt with the Writer in charge, I'll be able to enjoy progress more.

To illustrate my battle between frustration and progress, allow me to show you all the book cover designs my ever-so-patient artist mocked up (according to my "vision") from start to finish.


I was absolutely sure I wanted a tree and flames as part of the cover. No question in my mind.
And I was deadset on this font. Didn't even want to consider any other one. 
Okay, so then I decided  font could look cooler...
And the flames weren't working.

 Okay, then I was digging different fonts, but something wasn't right.
It couldn't have been the tree though. I had to have a tree on the cover.
Okay, so no tree was better. I loved this idea. Much more conceptual...
The blue/green colors dancing...yes! This is the exact cover I wanted.

Okay, so the guy who owns the photograph didn't want share it with us for the cover.
Fine. Be that way. I'll take my own picture and replicate it.
Only,  I couldn't.
So I scrapped the food coloring in water and tried milk, food coloring, and soap.
Then I started having second thoughts about the font again.

Okay- yes. The artist was right. This font worked better.
And zooming on the bubble - genius.
We were almost there. 

Nailed it.

All of this to say:

For those of you who have asked and are patiently waiting for a sequel - I picked a place to start, and I'm making progress.

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