What anchors your writing? Place? Emotion? Characters? When you lose your way or begin a new book, how do you find your way in?
Where’s my sign?
I’m actually going through this right now, so this is a good question to help me deconstruct the emotions and blockages that are hampering my progress on a work I intended to begin this fall.
In the spring of this year, I was approached by an editor intrigued by one of my book proposals. Unfortunately, I was finishing up The Trailokya Trilogy and getting the editing and preparation for the first release under way, while simultaneously re-releasing my first two books. I’m not sure if it was being in the epic fantasy mode that prevented me from following through on my promise to have something to her about now, because I wrote the sequel to OP-DEC. I was able to switch back over to historical thriller with ease. That said, Trailokya does have elements of the Thriller genre in it. So, that can’t be the problem.
Excitement about a project is a huge anchor—actually I’d call it the motor in my boat. When I get an idea for a book, I am thrilled to get started. The book I was supposed to be working on is something I hashed out a few pages for several years ago and have not been able to revisit since. The publication of Blue Honor and the follow up of OP-DEC pretty much nixed it. And, then, I wound up going back to school to get my graduate degree. I want to say, the structure of the education system seems to really help spur me on. I wrote the Trailokya Trilogy (all three) drafts during a winter break. Then again, it seems to me, that it’s always been about when the book is ready is to hatch. For instance, Blue took ten years of drafting and perfecting my skills, whereas OP-DEC took a month. Trailokya took a lifetime. I say that it took a lifetime because so much of all that I have learned in my lifetime, from when I was a little girl and had dreams about three doors through to today, has entered into the making of those books. Write what you know is an author’s mantra for a reason.
Trailokya was 38 years in the making, and counting. Until the emotions, all of the characters and the places were situated into a plausible narrative in my head, I had no plans for writing anything. Back in the early 2000s I penned a script called Faith Fallen which I turned to use as an outline for The Shadow Soul. During my studies in grad school, I scoffed at the writers telling me that you couldn’t make an entire book worth reading out of a film script. I was going to make three.
What helped the most with keeping me on task was a sense of necessity. Without that sometimes debilitating need to write down the story, I seem unmoved to act on any of my ideas. There is so much material out there, and it all overlaps to such an extent that nothing is truly original, that I feel I need to really make a concoction that is almost extreme to make it worthwhile. That need mixed with the electric excitement is my sign that I have stumbled upon something worth working on.
Will I ever get to that historical novel the editor was interested in? Once I get a bit of time to sit and read some research, the spark of excitement will be ignited and I’ll be underway in a race to share another story with the dire necessity of getting it out there before it expires again.
When I lose my way, I let myself wander. The most marvelous things come up at these times, and although they may seem a distraction, they’ve become some of the best times spent preparing for future books.