I’m back after a long long break. But I’m back and ready to post as much as possible. I have big news that I’ll announce in my next post, but this one is about the main cause of my disappearance: writing depression.
Last year after NaNo I devoted my time to revising Fireflies into a YA (for those just tuning in, Fireflies was a MG, and three agents suggested I revise it into a YA). I started revising on the cruise, but didn’t get very far. But afterward, I knew enough time had gone since the R&R request, and I needed to get on it. So I focused on the revision, taking a detour for ScriptFrenzy (I only wrote 50 pages) in late April.
The problem was…I wasn’t enjoying it at all. There were some good things I was writing, but every word was like pulling teeth. The same for when I wrote for ScriptFrenzy. The same after I gave up on Fireflies for good and tried working on a H/V sequel and on another old novel I gave up on once upon a time. And when I thought about it, Nano Kid, my NaNo novel from 2010, had been difficult to write (though you wouldn’t know it from my NaNo stats). I’m not going to lie. Almost every novel has some area where I struggle to put the words down and get through the scene, but this was happening for everything I was writing and had been since I finished H/V (summer of last year).
For Fireflies, I had more discouragement because I never felt right making it a YA. I felt like Fiona acted like a pre-teen and that the plot was better for an MG, but it seems like agents felt my voice and the relationship between Fiona and her brother were better for an older audience. But being a YA required an additional 20K words and probably a romance too. Plus I had other issues to address, based on agent and beta comments. I worked on it for months, added enough words to make it into YA range (whether I succeeded in making it YA is another matter ), and fixed some of the problems, but in the end it just wasn’t working.
Meanwhile, I had non-writing issues I was dealing with. I’ve been focused on diet and exercise because of health issues, and until May I was having difficulty seeing results despite working out a ton and eating pretty well. In May, my cat had a tumor and had to have surgery (he’s okay). Plus, I’ve been having money issues, which is why I stopped sending out books in May. I have the books, just no money to send them anywhere Notice how this all kinda comes together in May? Notice when my last blog post was?
It may be a bunch of excuses, but the end result was that I just was completely depressed by everything writing related. I unplugged from the writing world as much as possible. No blog, no Twitter, and I even visited Absolute Write rarely (and then only to act as a moderator).
This ended in August, thank goodness, and I’ve slowly been integrating myself back into the writing world since. But what happened in August? you might ask. Well, it turned out I needed a kick in the pants in the form of a Three-Day Novel. My friend and I rented a cheap cabin for a three-day weekend and wrote our fingers off for 72 hours. I had been coming up with plot points for that novel since March, but I have to admit that with the way my writing had been going earlier this year, I was pretty nervous about devoting 3 days to writing. Especially since my April writing vacation completely failed.
Anyway, the plan had been just to be silly and not worry about plot or characterization…but that plan died pretty quickly. But here was the amazing thing about this novel: the entire time I wrote it, it never once felt like I was forcing the words out for words’ sake. It was fun. It had been over a year since I had had fun writing, and the entire thing was just plain fun.
And, you know what? Revisions and betas later, it’s still fun
After that I wrote and submitted a short story to a kidlit contest (I did not win), I started a short story in the novel world (I never finished, but only because my focus went elsewhere), and I took Fireflies and cut it down into a short story.
Yep. I figured out the problem with Fireflies. The “brilliant concept” and “beautiful writing” worked better in a shorter work. I had all these extra scenes in it that I didn’t need (in the teeny MG version, even). Scenes that were actually causing problems. Thanks to agent and beta comments, I could ID those quick and zap them out of the story. Then came the harder part. What Troy scenes did I need to get rid of? See, the heart and soul of the story, to me, is Fiona dealing with her brother who is recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury. So every scene with the two of them was golden to me.
I cut a bunch. I kept a bunch. In the end I had 7000 words that revolved around the very essence of what I wanted when I wrote that novel and could be marketed to adults. And what did I do then? I actually submitted it to something.
That was all in August. And, well, stuff has happened since then.
I’ll tell you about it next time
Lots of love,