So as my last few posts outlined, Sacred Cities gave me a run for my money. I worked on it for a little over a year, although there were plenty of down times in between, and I finally threw in the towel…temporarily. I wrote 80k words in it, deleted 50k, then rewrote it up to 185k, had it finished, and partway through my first read through I knew something still wasn’t right. Not just one thing, but a lot of things. There was a decision to be made that wasn’t easy. I had to decide whether to tackle it again, tear it down and build it back up, or put it aside. The best decision I ever made was opting for the latter, for several different reasons.
First, because I needed a break. I think Sacred Cities and I were too close. We were butting heads and I was trying to make it something it wasn’t. I didn’t realize it had a life of it’s own, and I was holding on too tight. I wasn’t happy about it, but I did it to myself, really, and it took me longer than it should have to realize it. The good that came out of it was I learned what it felt like to write against the grain. I forced it when I should have relaxed, and now I know what that feels like. That’s a good thing.
Second, it gave me a chance to start a new book that had been tugging at my creative strings for a while. That is the mystery project, and to refrain from jinxing it, so to speak, it will remain that until I’m certain it’s ready. While Sacred Cities was the book I wanted to come back to the publishing world with, it wasn’t ready, and in all honesty, maybe I wasn’t either. The mystery project is taking me back to square one, a place I seemed to have forgotten: writing for fun. Writing what I want to read. Closing my eyes, letting go, and watching an action-packed adventure come to life.
Over the past two weeks, that’s what I’ve been doing. I let the cursor on the blank page blink a few times and I started writing. It began as a paragraph outline that quickly expanded to a few pages. I created character outlines, back stories, and researched myths and legends and demons and all things that go bump in the night. It was fun again. I never finished the detailed chapter by chapter outline, and that too is a good thing. I felt too much excitement toward the story and needed to start, so I did.
In a short time I racked up 26k words, and the story flowed with rapid excitement. Not only that, but I’m liking what I read when I review my chapters. It’s still exciting the second time through. I’m having fun, the story is coming to life in a way that Chase, Rayna, Willy, and Tiki came to life. I’m seeing a different world, feeling the magic against my skin, and it feels incredible.
Sacred Cities isn’t finished, and it’s not put aside forever either. I know what it needs now, and thanks to the mystery project, I can feel the difference between when something is working for me and when it isn’t. I can tell when I’m pushing too hard and not listening to the story. This project has forced me to change gears, and in turn, it has me excited to get back to work on Sacred Cities again.
This was a huge learning curve for me. Something I didn’t expect to happen. That was probably arrogance or pride talking. I thought I was better than I was, and this has been a humbling, eye-opening, and educational turning point for me. I’m not too prideful to admit when I’ve overstepped myself. I thought I could force some remarkable masterpiece to life because I was that good. I’m not. I never was. I never will be. Stories need to breathe, and as you write them they take on a life of their own. The creative process, as much as it is a writer hitting the keys, is a story making it’s mark on us. As much as we create a work of fiction, it adds to who we are as well. I was naive. I shouldn’t have been. I lost sight of the truth. The process needs to be respected and enjoyed. I worked hard, but I wasn’t enjoying it, and in turn, I wasn’t respecting what the story wanted to be. I wasn’t respecting myself as a writer. I tried to define something that cannot be defined because it’s an ever-changing beast that will not be tamed. It’s another lesson learned and another stair climbed in the adventure of story telling. It was a necessary lesson, and I’m thrilled to be moving forward with it as another weapon in my youthful, writing arsenal. All of it was a big bump in the road, one that unfortunately set me back on a timeline for my next book, which has meant even more waiting for my readers.
Luckily, I have incredible readers and you guys make it all worth while. In return, I’ll be doing my best to make the wait worth your while!