This is a story about strawberry tea and sparkly star stickers and avocado fries.
It’s mostly about doing impossible things, the importance of having people to complain to until your face melts, and why you should have a really nice chair at your desk.
It’s about how I finally, Finally, finished the book.
A brief review: In January and February I revised a different book. It was hard and it was long and then it was done.
In March, I did…possibly nothing. I know I wrote a 10k short story, which you can read right here on the blog, and I have absolutely no idea what else. This is not uncommon for me. Nothing to see here. I do know that I went on vacation and stayed in a gorgeous hotel and walked through some ruins and started dreaming about a book.
In April I did Camp Nanowrimo and tried to give that book some guts. I got 20k in and I realized there was no story there. It was all too clean, dry, dull. It was already boring me and if something bores you at 20k, my friends, just don’t force yourself through 50-70k more. It’s just not worth it.
In April I also moaned and complained and blogged and fussed, until I suddenly realized what I was really telling was the story of a somewhat villainous girl with a stone for a heart and a whole lot of fears hidden away underneath it. Then I found the story.
In May I worked on the book. Which is to say I wrote in fits and starts, interrupted by days of staring at the ceiling or reading books so I could hide from how scared I was of the book. I talked people’s heads off. I brainstormed via DM and email and I’m kind of surprised I have any friends left. I was grouchy, irritable, and then giddy sometimes. The story inched along, and it got bigger and deeper and darker. It started a body count.
I started getting cramps in my forearms and elbows.
In June I started the sticker system again, annoyed with my brain and my apparent need to only write 3-4 days a week instead of six. I’d never written a book so slowly and it was slowly crushing my confidence.
And then it wasn’t. It wasn’t slow, it was bloody, there was a lot of kissing, my back was aching from the hours in my antique, lovely, awful chair, and there was Progress happening. I only missed two days of writing between June 1st and today. Aside from those, my lowest wordcount for a day was 1500. The last two days, Monday and yesterday, were 7k and 11.5k respectively. That’s right, I finished this book exactly the opposite of the way I started it – in April it was a creeping, miserable thing. In June it was a marathon fueled by avocado fries and tea from my lovely OTSP secret sister, the encouragement of my very, very lovely and sweet and understanding first reader, Pinterest, Woodkid and Two Steps From Hell, and a kind of satisfaction I’d been missing before.
Finally the story is right. It’s not necessarily good, y’all, good takes more time and I already have a list of things to polish up, but it’s very solid. Much more so than usual. Which makes all that extra time and frustration very much worth it. AND IT’S DONE.
Usually I write six or seven drafts of books per year. In 2015, I’ve written one. This one. And where that used to scare me, now I’m a little bit proud of it. Because I know it’s already on it’s road to being what I want it to be – what it’s capable of being. And that’s what any writer wants for their story.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m back in a week or two weeping and tearing my hair out over how it won’t polish up as shiny bright as I’d like it to. But I finished a book, y’all. And if you’re staring at a screen or a page and moaning and stuffing yourself with cookies, let me just encourage you – it is, it is, it is worth it in the end.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to see these kind of things, I’ve included a little scene below from this draft. Words in the rough, you know.
You guys, it’s done.
They climbed the steps into the ruins themselves, and she was swept by a silent awe that nested in her bones, wove itself through the fabric of her skin, laced itself through the slipping furious strength of her blood. Evian’s hand fell from hers as he walked slowly across to the far wall, running a hand across the stone with head bowed as though he absorbed the whispered pleading prayers of a nation through his fingertips over the rough façade.
She felt loose. Untethered. It was a heady sensation.
Marguerite turned slowly the way they came, staring out across the sun-dappled gravestones to the river beyond, flowing blue and green and fast along it’s path. She felt it’s movement, wild, in her veins.
The high arches where the bells used to sit framed a sky so blue it made her breathless. Low branches of trees hung overhead, drooping down over the stone walls into the dirt courtyard they stood in and sneaking through the wide square windows carved into the stone. There was nothing but rock and sun and late afternoon breeze, ripe with spring and lilacs blooming somewhere beyond the walls. The silence wrapped itself around her, easing the pain in her side, the burn of her cuts and the stitches woven through them, and the aching gape of her fear of the future.
She sat on a low stone stoop leading down into one of the copses standing diligently on either side of the arched entrance to the ruins and tilted her head back, letting the sun fall full and hot across her face, washing away the damages.