Writing this book took me ten years. Longer, really, but the actual writing of it started in 2000, when I had some “time off from work” (read: between jobs) and spent virtually every afternoon at Mozart’s, a gorgeous coffee house on the shore of Lake Austin in Austin, TX. It’s hard not to be inspired when sitting on a deck by the water with a laptop drinking a bottomless cup of coffee.
So, three chapters flew by before tragedy struck. I got a job! Steady employment is the bane of the writers’ life. At least is has been for me. The novel languished without constant attention. But then something magical happened.
I moved to New York City!
The sudden infusion of energy and change (and a possible mid-life crisis), as well as a timely conversation with a friend, spurred me to inspiration. I stopped using all the excuses I’d been leaning on up to that point: I was too busy. The subway was too crowded. I had no place to write. My laptop was too heavy to carry every day. Then my laptop was broken.
That all ended when I decided I would finish the book by hand. A 30 to 45 minute subway ride each way every day gave me isolation. A binder full of blank, hole-punched paper gave me a canvas. I started where I left off lo those many years before, and stated to the world, or whoever would read my website blog, that I would finish by the end of the year. And I did!
Long story, I know. But the point is, the hard part has now begun. Editing. Please shoot me. Now.
Thank goodness for Holly Lisle! Anyone who is a speculative fiction writer with an eagerness to learn should know who this woman is. She’s a veritable ocean of resources. Classes, clinics, emails — so much information to inspire and encourage. I started with her clinics on creating language, plot, character and culture, which proved to be amazingly detailed and helpful. Then I signed up for the emails, and discovered words of advice I go back to over and over.
But what really turned me around were the courses: How To Think Sideways and How To Revise Your Novel. I cannot extol the virtues of these courses enough. I’ll blog about Think Sideways another time. It’s the novel revision course that promises, after you’ve struggled through the first painful drudge, you’ll be able to revise a novel in ONE PASS. It’s the sort of Nirvana that I would trudge through Hell for. And I am. Editing truly sucks.
However, I have Holly to get me through. Her structure is so meticulous and organized, it’s a revelation. There’s nothing like this course anywhere as far as I know. Though I’ve barely scratched the surface of her method, I can already see the benefits of taking a meticulous, detailed approach at examining my own words with a clinical eye toward making it the best novel it can be.
And here’s the best part: I’m enjoying reading the book I wrote! It may never be published — sad truth is very few first novels are publishable — but I enjoyed the writing and I’m very proud of what I produced.
Next stop, a finished novel by early next year!