Reflections on a hard writing winter–
This winter was tough. I had new responsibilities at my job, my kids are both teenagers now (gulp), my son changed schools, my mom was seriously ill for a while, and the sale of my publishing company to another company brought a lot of uncertainty.
Then there was the fact that my characters were not behaving. I followed where I thought I was being led and ended up having to throw out six months of work. Certainly, they were not a particularly productive six months, but it’s awfully tough to be looking at a manuscript in April that is essentially the same manuscript you were looking at in September.
And when I did start over, I found myself, for the first time, writing a draft with only the vaguest sense of what the end point was. In my earlier manuscripts, I always knew the final scene, the climax, the final resolution. It’s like climbing a mountain and looking up now and then at the peak, telling yourself, “Soon I will be there, staring out at a gorgeous vista, looking back over the arduous trail, and feeling the wind on my face.” But in this one, I couldn’t see the peak. I knew the nature of the resolution, but I didn’t know what the climax was or any of the particulars of the resolution. It was disconcerting–even as I recognized that I was learning a new writing lesson as I did it. And it took some faith because I had to climb this mountain in a fog, believing the peak was there and that I would get there and it would be worth it, but never really being sure.
This summer has been, at times, different. Since chucking out all my work in April, I’ve been clear that starting over was the right thing, but it has still been a real slog. There were times, LOTS of them, when I thought that there was no way to the peak of this mountain. Finally, in desperation, I called a friend and told her the story. She’s read drafts for me before, loves sci-fi/fantasy and is a history teacher/PhD so she brings an interesting perspective to the whole “world-building” aspect of fantasy. She gave me enough hope and confidence to keep going. And the fog began to clear.
Suddenly, I had an ending. The peak was still far away, but I could see it and I knew the ascent was possible.
I’m not there yet. (Don’t tell my editor!) But I will make it. If there was only a little more summer left….