In which progress is made

I’ve been working.  Monday was one of those fragmented days where I couldn’t get my hours-together to focus, though I did some, um, deconstruction work on the third iteration of this novel, and realized that part of what was making things more difficult than they needed to be was the structure, and! for Extra Writer Bonus Points! if I restructured the third iteration, I could actually rescue words from the two iterations I had set aside.


So, yesterday morning, I pulled the chapter-by-chapter files for each of the three iterations (as I said on Facebook, thank ghod that the person who writes my books takes the time to keep a running chapter-by-chapter summary of each book-in-process.  They’re a huge help in identifying which chapters/scenes can be rescued and where they are.

Having identified the words which could be folded into the WIP with good effect, I spent the afternoon unbraiding the (very lightly braided) narrative threads of the third book, and cut-n-pasting the rescued scenes into the (hopefully) correct order.  That was a little harrowing, and in the end, I couldn’t rescue anywhere near 50,000 words.  I did, however, get 13,000 words in several nice, chewy scenes that will definitely improve the final story, so the work was worth doing.

This morning, I compiled the book in its Pretty New Structure, and printed it out.  Tomorrow, probably (since today is another chopped-up day), I’ll sit down with the compiled manuscript and do a continuity edit.  I’m feeling good about the new structure; and while I’m doubtless up for some Serious Work in building bridges, and switching scenes/viewpoints around so characters don’t know about certain events before they happen, that’s just — work.

Over on Facebook, someone commented that this novel had gotten very messy, which is certainly true.  There are a bunch of reasons for that.  Part of it’s depression, as I mentioned.  It’s hard to think when you’re (when I’m) depressed; especially, it’s hard to do the kind of free-flow, instinct-level thinking which is the Very Best Space from which to write a novel (IMHO).  Which means I’ve got to Figure Things Out by the Numbers, which is no fun, and I have to do it when I have the Stupids.

Another thing that played into this novel becoming quite so messy is —  given that there are a lot of choices open to us in terms of where to start, where to go, where to end, and who to include in the party, it stands to reason that no matter what we decide to do, someone(s) will be angry and disappointed, and therefore conclude that we can no longer write, and will feel compelled to tell us so, and. . .I really, really, really don’t right now have the spoons to deal with that.  Odds are good that I will have the spoons to deal with it once the book is in a position for people to be disappointed in it, but right now, that future Angry Reader is kinda hanging over my head like a machete.  I’m trying to ignore him/her/it/they, and write the story that’s true, which, some days, is easier said than done.

The result of all these choices and other situations is that we have three starts to this novel, two of which petered out at around 25,000 words (for a total of 50,000 words), including  about — eh?  20,000 words? — detailing the adventures of a group of characters who (among all the characters who do) Don’t Actually Belong in this book.  It’s not Bad Stuff, it just doesn’t belong in *this* book, and is being preserved (as writers do) against the future book in which they do belong.

We’ve written messy books in the past (by which I mean, we wrote them messily.  I have. . .perhaps fond isn’t the word I want. . .memories of laying all the chapters of Conflict of Honors out on the living room floor and literally cutting pages apart and Scotch-taping the scenes together, until we had a novel that Actually Made Sense), but this is the messiest I’ve been lead on in a long time.  Of course, I was off writing Carousel books for a little while there, which are, compared to the Liaden books, really pretty straightforward.

. . . and that’s where we stand

For those playing along at home, we’re +/- 46,000 words into a firm draft of a book that is obstinately remaining nameless, and construction is continuing, with deliberation.

In other news — Tomorrow is the first day of Spring!  . . .and the weather predictions for us here in Central Maine is for one to three inches of snow tonight.


5 thoughts on “In which progress is made”

  1. Sharon, I did not know that you were struggling with depression. HUGs. I know how that is and how it can really stunt the creative from germinating. Your loyal readers eagerly await the fruits of your labours.

  2. I’m excited to read the new book. I trust that you’ll write, at a minimum, a Really Good novel. IMHO, readers need to suck it up and accept the novel the writer writes. I hope the process gets better for you and that the other four novels are less messy.

  3. I’m a bit low on spoons, too, though half of that problem turned out to be anemia, so I’m up by half! If only my kids’ energy and spirits could be bottled and sold as an elixir, I’d be able to provide spoons for at least half the country.

  4. As for the Phantom of Potential Future Angry reader, I wish I had a magic wand to dispel him so he’d stop hanging about. The Ghost of Enthusiastic Readers Present would I think be much better company.

    One of the things that makes me read your books repeatedly when I’ve forsaken all other reading is the fact that they are both real and satisfying. Seems to me, the Shy books are just demonstrating how real they are, and your patience with teasing them out to play nicely is part of the magic that makes your books worth so much more to me.

  5. Bleagh. Depression is so profoundly unfun. Sometimes it helps (me) to buy a pot of fragrant hyacinths, or bring in a bouquet of rosemary, or drink especially delicious things (apricot black tea, almond or raspberry hot chocolate, made by steeping dried raspberries in hot water and straining) … helps a little bit, anyway, by providing a moment or two of relative peacefulness, if it doesn’t actually Fix things…
    Another good tea; lemon balm, raspberries and ginger. Possibly served with fresh, hot scones, with tiny bits of candied ginger in them. I’ll leave a virtual tea tray on the desk in your ivory tower.
    Here’s hoping your own lifelines are helping.

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