The Joys of Starting Over

Every so often I’ll pop onto a favorite author’s blog to see what they’re up to, what progress they’ve made, updated release dates, you know, the stuff you’d expect to find on an author’s blog.

The other day I headed over to Michelle Sagara’s blog because I wanted an update on Cast in Sorrow and Touch (book two of the Queen of the Dead series that started with the brilliant Silence). And I found this post and had a bit of a OMG moment. Well, two, really.

The ending of Silence wasn’t quite a cliff-hanger, but it was cliff-hangery enough I was anxious for Touch to come out. The release date’s been set, it’s up on Goodreads, but this post…made me anxious. She’s started the book from scratch three times. Three. And as of December, she still wasn’t done.

She goes on to explain why this was such a big deal and how having to nuke her book to ground zero doesn’t do wonders for her faith in her abilities as a writer.

This led to the second part of my OMG moment. Accompanied by some flailing.

I mentioned a while ago I was almost at the point where I would have to put Shadowdemon in a drawer due to lack of interest. Well, that time came a few weeks ago when I received the final rejection. Sure, there are a few other places I could try, but none of them quite have the reach I want for this book. So putting it aside seemed like the best thing to do.

I knew one of my options would be to combine the three books of the trilogy into one, and frankly, that prospect is daunting. I’m not a writer of too many words. I’ve never suffered from having to cut 20K from a 115K manuscript. Rather, my drafts always end up being a little too short, and as such I’m loath to cut words because it would end up being even shorter. The total word count on the three books? Around 61K each. Which gives me a grand total of 183K (and I’m embarrassed I actually had to use a calculator to figure that out). Combining the three books into one longer book with a finished length of around 85-90K means cutting almost 100 thousand words.

Well, shit. Shit, shit, and more shit.

This leaves me with one other option: gut the book and start from the beginning.

In some ways, this isn’t such a bad idea. I’ve gotten pretty damn attached to a lot of the scenes and plot threads in the trilogy, and junking all of it means I sever those ties in one swipe. I’d had some idle thoughts of making it darker, more dangerous (c’mon, demons are taking over the city! There’s danger on every corner!) and a lot more intense. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish that, but at least I was thinking about it, right?

But. *insert tears here*

I put months of work into those books, first drafting, then editing them. I got a frickin’ award for one of them. Having to admit that all that hard work ended with me starting over from the beginning is as depressing a thought as I’ve had in relation to all things writing in a very long time.

And before you say anything, I know I’m being melodramatic. Those were amongst my first writing attempts, and it’s pretty rare for a first attempt, or a second attempt, or hell, even a fifth attempt, to actually make it to publication. Most writers have manuscripts that never see the light of day, and I don’t doubt I’ll end up with one or two of those myself.

So why am I hanging on to this story so tightly? Why am I even considering nuking it?

Because it’s essential to the arc of another story I’ve written.

Finders Keepers takes place in the same world I created for Shadowdemon. It refers to the events in a few places throughout the book. Hell, Audrey and Jordan make an appearance, and I’m just starting to draft book two (Breaking Lucky) and yup, they’re back. Audrey’s going to have a bigger role this time around.

Basically, I need the story to be told, for a number of reasons.

Which means I’ll just have to find a way to tell the story of a demon race invading a city with the intent of destroying it little by little. Sigh. After I finish one of the other four unfinished projects I’ve got clamoring for my attention.

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