As you may already know, I’m deep in the throws of AUT revisions. Revisions always have several stages for me. There’s the denial stage, when I don’t look at the letter and I put away the manuscript and I just sort of ignore it all for a few days. Then there’s the curiosity stage, when I just can’t take it anymore and I must know what my agent/editor has said about my book. Then there’s the depression stage, when I’m like, “I’m such a crappy writer, I did all this stuff wrong in the first place, there’s no way I can fix it!”
Then I remember some of the best writing advice ever: Everything is fixable. So I sit down and get to work. Except then comes the anger stage, the stage when (in my head, I would never be this whiny to my editor or agent, because I know it’s ridiculous) I’m a petulant four-year-old who JUST DOESN’T WANNA. I can feel the resistance to the work it will take to change the things that–now that somebody has pointed it out to me–are so obviously wrong as a physical thing, a tightening of the muscles in my arms. I blame it on everything but myself: where I’m doing the work, the weather, my friends for distracting me with party invitations and general exhortations to go out, my day job for tuckering me out so that I can’t work when I get home, the books I’m reading for not making me want to write (for whatever reason), etc. Obviously it’s not my fault or anything. God forbid.
Then comes the acceptance stage. I’m happy to report that’s where I am now. Not only that, but I’m excited to work, although I am saving most it for the weekend because the things I have to do now are bigger and I really feel like I need a good eight straight hours to accomplish it the way I want. I will probably get that on Saturday, which will be an enormous relief, but the thing is that I really want to write it.
At first I was intimidated, because I haven’t done any actual brand new writing on this book in a long time, but now I’m looking forward to really fleshing out a character that is completely real in my head but too enigmatic on the page. I’ve got my playlist and my character manifesto ready and I’ve even got an idea for one or two scenes (I’m thinking I’ll need three or even four total). The good thing is that there’s a lot of stuff I’ve talked about for this character, scenes I’ve alluded to but haven’t actually written, so I can pull those scenes out and make them work for me.
This is something that’s becoming clear to me, that the more you write, the more resources you have within your narrative to write more. Eventually you have to stop, because most books aren’t really built to be 1,000 pages long, but now I’m getting how Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling and Tolstoy and Margaret Mitchell can draw their books out like that, because there’s always another corner of the world you’re building to shine a flashlight into. One sentence can create an entire series of scenes, if you think about it long and hard enough. That’s how it sort of is for me–while I was doing my small changes I noticed a sentence I wrote and went, “Hm. What does that mean?” because it sounds kind of like enigmatic, flippant rumor-mongering, and though I remember writing the sentence and meaning it sort of innocuously, with no real agenda, upon further reflection it seems more suggestive and I was like, “What’s the story behind that? Let’s find out!” So a couple of my scenes are coming from that one sentence, or at least are inspired by it.
Right now I’m happy to be doing the work I’m doing, but I’m also really looking forward to being done. I told myself I can’t seriously work on anything new until I’m done with the revisions for my second novel, MB, which I plan on continuing (I was working on them all November, but got sidelined by these AUT revisions, which I believe take precedence, and I’m sure my editor would agree) as soon as I get home from California on January 4. At least those are half done, and once they’re in my editor’s hands I will have some real time to focus on my next project, whichever one of the two (three? maybe) projects I have in the queue that might be. I think I know which one I want it to be, at least, but that might not be the smartest third book, career-wise, who knows. Good thing I have Joanna to help me sort those things out. I have a feeling I’ll be writing a couple of proposals this spring.
Meanwhile, to keep my mind sharp between spurts of AUT editing, I’ve been working on what I’m calling a “grand epilogue” for AUT. I don’t think I’ll ever publish this, although never say never, but it’s fun for me to write, because it’s like catching up with old friends at your ten year reunion, since I’m writing all my main characters (well, the ones who are alive) but in their mid-twenties instead of their late teens. It’s better for me than working on MB or a new project while I’m doing these revisions, because I’m sticking with the exact same characters in the same setting, so I’m always in the same world. Seems to be working out okay, because I’m still creating a new story, but it’s keeping my muscles warm for the heavy lifting that is the AUT revisions.