I'm sitting here trying to write a query letter for my most recent novel (the novel I wrote since being fired!), and something amazing just occurred to me. When I started writing this book last year, I didn't really know where it was going. It was a weird book, with weird ideas, and a plot that doesn't do what you expect your average plot to do. To be perfectly honest, when I set out to tell this story, I didn't think I had the skills to tell it. Even when I outlined the hell out of it and had my epiphanies and figured out exactly what was going on in the book, I still didn't believe I had the skills to write it.
And yet here I am, crafting the elusive one sentence summary, preparing my novel for her maiden voyage to my literary agent of choice.
Maybe I had the skills all along, and maybe I didn't. Maybe I learned the skills along the way. But I gave it everything I had--I trusted in the story, in the process, in my sheer love of storytelling. And now I've told the story that I wasn't sure I had the capacity to tell.
That realization...it just...I don't have words for it. I feel humbled. And proud. And at peace.Also, I kind of feel like I can do anything now. Just to warn you.
So I think a lot about imaginary people (because I'm a writer, and a reader) and I think a lot about story, and what aspects appeal to humans, and how, when things are taken too far, maybe people sometimes expect real life to be like stories, which isn't impossible, but unlikely. And I think sometimes about these characters that go through so much and finally achieve their huge, massive goal--and then what? What drives them forward? Do they get their happily ever after? Or does the story go on? Or rather, do they begin a different story?
Happily ever after is widely accepted as a myth these days, because we know that time and life doesn't stand still. You can't stay at the top forever. Problems arise, solutions must be sought. Stories must be lived.
I think about that a lot: what do are the characters' lives like after the story ends?
And then I hit my own milestone/climax-resolution yesterday. I finished the first draft of GHOST CITY, the first novel I've started and finished since 2010 when I posted the last chapter of The Poppet and the Lune (unless you count my massive rewrite of THE HIEROPHANT). I felt like I should have been more exuberant, more over the moon for my accomplishment. I had to check to make sure I wasn't suppressing joy in favor of doubt (as I do). I wasn't. I was excited, but no more excited than I'd been the days before. I'm excited for the book! But the story goes on, well after the first draft, as any writer knows. And I'm more excited to move forward onto the next stage of crafting this story than I am excited that I finished one stage of it.
It's a little bit like me getting fired. I'm far more excited and enthusiastic about being free and living my life as I've dreamed, than I am excited to be free of my terrible day job.
That's not to say that when I do finish a final, polished, ready-for-submission draft that I won't be exploding with joy, but that's a slightly larger milestone to meet.
Relief is more the feeling I had yesterday. I was relieved that I made it through the whole thing. I was relieved that I had it in me, another story, another novel. I was relieved that my decisions about the novel, whether they were the "right" ones or not, were good decisions. I was relieved that I could do it. I can do it. I can write novels, and more than just the ones I've already written.
I have a feeling I will feel that same relief with the first draft of every novel I will ever write.
Kiddo looks away first, steps to the very edge of the roof to look down at the ghosts. Her nearness to the edge makes Noah palpably nervous. He wants to reach to pull her back, but Kiddo is fearless, just as sure footed at the edge of the roof as in the middle of a barren field. He doesn’t want to insult her by insinuating her balance is anything less than remarkable.
But despite what he thinks, Kiddo doesn’t have much of a concept of pride, even when it comes to her physical prowess. She’s stood on many edges in her lifetime, looked out over the clear dark of the night, or the water, or the sky, and no one has ever touched her arm to draw her back to safety. If Noah had done that, as he wanted to, just then, Kiddo wouldn’t have been insulted. She might have been startled that someone would make such a communicative gesture—“I don’t want you to fall and die”—especially Noah. But she wouldn't have been insulted.
Instead, Kiddo stands on the edge of the roof, alone, and Noah does nothing, fearful that pulling her back would only push her farther away.