Dear October: You may arrive now

Right. The raven book, under the for-now working title of Raven Skies is off to my editor.

Whoosh!

Now for something in the way of a celebratory meal before turning to my usual post-book tasks of laundry, email, and sleep. 🙂

All of which are also ways of stepping back from the book and gaining some perspective on the book so as to be ready to dig in again when editorial notes arrive.

“But you had to come along, didn’t you / tear down the doors / throw open windows”

I don’t believe in the outside world anymore. There’s this book. And more of this book. That’s all.

=–=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Dear Tertiary Character Who Was Created With Somewhat Mocking Intentions,

One of the surprises of this book is that your primary purpose is not to be amusing in your flakiness.

You’re not flaky at all, but a legitimate and compassionate and real character.

I love you for that.

You don’t even seem to hold it against me, that I almost got it wrong. Because that’s just who you are.

Me

=–=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Dear All Characters,

What’s with all the smiling? Seriously, this isn’t that happy a book.

It could be worse. You could be trying to breathe, or something.

But still.

Me

P.S. Ditto the laughing. What’s with the laughing?

=–=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

(Wanders off to ponder the personalities of rivers and the plot arcs of Cheetos.)

Fourth draft! And, thoughts on emotion and structure.

‎(stares hollowly at screen) I think it’s a fourth draft.

Which means I get to collapse for a day, before trying to do some tightening, especially over the final chapters, over the next week. (I like when I finish drafts Friday nights, Saturday being my designated day off anyway.)

As I’ve been working on rewrites, I’ve been thinking about a couple different critique group comments.

The first was jennifer_j_s, who said to me, after reading an earlier draft, “I never cried.”

The second was lnhammer saying, “I did feel a catch in the throat. But not there.” And telling me where he did.

This got me to thinking about something. In my own books, I don’t get a catch in my throat during moments of loss, hard as writing those moments can be. I get a catch in my throat during moments when loss is redeemed.

So, say, in Thief Eyes (scroll over spoilers to read) I don’t feel that catch when Freki or even Haley’s mother die, devastating as those scenes were for me to write. But I do feel it when Haley runs by Freki’s side at the end of the book, and when thinks that now she knows what happened to her mother, and that that’s something, at least. I can think of similar moments in the Bones of Faerie books.

Experience is hugely subjective. When I cry may not be when the reader cries. The reader may not cry at all. But knowing where I cry is important, because it provides me with valuable structural information, though I hadn’t quite articulated that until now.

The point where lnhammer felt that emotional catch in the current book–where, when I thought about it, I felt it too–was a point that I’d been thinking of as something of an epilogue, existing out beyond the story’s denouement–beyond the story’s main inner and outer resolutions.

Except I realized my epilogue wasn’t an epilogue at all, but the thing the entire story was working towards.

This hugely informed my rewrites, of course, moving from the third draft to the fourth. And it’s something I’m continuing to think about, as I spend this next week on final revisions before sending the book off.

But first tonight and tomorrow are for stepping back, and gaining some perspective on same.

And also for trying to finally decide on a title. 🙂

“You can hear everything with me / You can win everyone but me”

Dear Brand New Character Who Has a Minor Three-Line Role in the Penultimate Chapter,

What’s up with your developing an actual personality?

It’s not like we’re ever going to see you again.

Are we?

Me

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Dear Secondary Character I Know Pretty Well By Now, But Apparently Not Well Enough,

Wait, wait. Did you say “I don’t date outside my species”?

Or did you say “I don’t mate outside my species”?

There’s a difference, you know.

Me

Scattered odds and ends

There’s a stiff cool (by local standards) wind blowing across the valley today. It feels very much like autumn is shouldering its way in to the desert.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Today I stumbled upon this reminder that arctic foxes are not always the hero the story.

Or as Freki says in Thief Eyes:

Whispers of vengeance and battle gave way to whispers of bad weather and lost grazing, of failing crops and starving livestock.

I have committed no crime. A charm to keep foxes from lambs, nothing more!

Freki sniffed disdainfully. “There is no charm that can keep a fox from a lamb.”

So they remain the heroes of their own stories, perhaps.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Addressed a few last-minute page proof questions for Faerie After today. Certain passages still make me cry a little. That is all.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

The raven book still doesn’t have a title (Raven River? Raven Remembering? Ravens and Some Other Things Too?) but, titled or untitled, is due the end of this month. So I’ll be pretty head-down among the shapeshifters the next few weeks.

None of whom, oddly, seem to be arctic foxes.

“She stumbled through the door / tripping over expectations / she never knew before”

Dear Book,

I agree. You are so very much stronger now that your characters don’t sit around with whiteboard and dry-erase markers brainstorming sensible solutions.

Still, I do miss the doughnuts they consumed while they did.

Also the javelinas who crashed the party, eating said doughnuts uninvited.

Me

“She’s found a common balance/ where you do your work / and you do your love”

Dear Fourth Draft of the Current Book,

You and I, we have drunk so much iced tea together this month.

And yet we have so much iced tea yet to drink.

Me

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

It’s that part of the book.

When things are finally, hopefully clicking together. Where so much of me is in the story, and so middle of me is left in me, that I’m at once madly driven to keep writing and possessed with a wild desire to take off for an undisclosed location to just stare at the walls or at some wilderness sky for a week. (Fortunately, this book has wilderness sky of its own. Not that same, but still.)

Either way, the book needs to be finished, both for external deadline purposes and internal I’m-so-close-I-can-taste-it purposes. So I keep writing, and as I do the world within the book begins to feel a little more real than the world outside of it.

If I seem a bit scattered and not-consistently-present-online through the month of September, this would pretty much be why. 🙂