Yes, yes, I know. It’s been way too long since my last blog. I’d kind of soured on writing.
I’ve been dealing first of all with my oldest dog’s kidney failure. She has less than 10% of her kidney function remaining. To keep her going I’ve had to learn to administer subcutaneous IVs—starting at twice a week and now three times a week. She is a beagle/walkerhound mix, a rescue, age not really known but probably 10 or 11 years old.
She’s very good about letting me give her the IV, sits quietly, winces when I stick in the needle but doesn’t jerk away. I’m getting better at it but had a hard time at first as I’d never done anything like that and it not only made me very nervous but I felt guilty about being inept and hurting her. So I was depressed about all that. But Kira is doing well, has a good appetite, and to see her you wouldn’t know anything is wrong with her. She’s a sweet, friendly dog, tail always wagging, and that hasn’t changed at all.
Another thing was that I’ve been querying a long list of agents, trying to find an agent for an urban fantasy novel titled Were House. No luck so far. But writing and email the queries took a good bit of time, and the results have been discouraging.
But the troubles with Kira and the agents’ rejections or lack of response only aggravated the real problem, which was that the novel I’ve been working on just wasn’t going well. I didn’t have writer’s block. I was working on it regularly, but it was like slogging through thick mud. The words I put on the page didn’t sparkle; they just clunked down and lay there like lumps of coal. I was seriously considering giving up but didn’t feel I could, as I’d promised a third book in the Arucadi: The Beginning series, following Mistress of the Wind and Bringers of Magic.
So, what to do? I tried various things, and nothing was working. I wanted this book, A Mix of Magics, to bridge the gap between the Beginning books and A Perilous Power, the prequel to A School for Sorcery. I kept telling myself that it shouldn’t be so hard to write. I knew and loved the characters in Mistress of the Wind and Bringers of Magic, and many of them carried over. I also had several new characters that should have been intriguing. But the novel wasn’t grabbing me as my other novels had. Was it just my mental state? Or was it really as bad as I sensed it was? I believed more and more that it was the latter.
I was washing dishes one evening and thinking about the futility of continuing work on a novel that just wasn’t going anywhere and that didn’t even interest me anymore, so how could I expect it to interest a reader? With my hands in the hot, soapy water, I pondered one particularly troublesome scene. It suddenly dawned on me that the problem was that I had the wrong protagonist. Changing protagonists when I was over halfway through the book seemed daunting, but as I thought about it, I finally understood that I’d never make the book work unless I made the change.
Understand, this is a book that has several viewpoint characters. That wouldn’t change. I wouldn’t have to change everything I’d written. And I wouldn’t be introducing a new character. But I would be changing the whole emphasis and tone of the novel. I dried my hands, went to the computer, and wrote a new first chapter.
Everything fell into place. I was excited about the book and the characters again. I could make it come alive. My whole attitude changed—toward the book and toward life in general. I was eager to write. And write I did. In no time I’d rewritten the problem scenes and had great fun writing the climactic scene. I took the advice of a writer friend as to how to handle a scene with a large number of characters. Her advice was to use omniscient viewpoint. I did that for two or three scenes. These were action scenes that were hard to describe from a single character’s viewpoint, as I’d been trying to do. Writing them in omniscient solved the problem.
Like a dam bursting, ideas flooded out. A couple of days ago I finished the first draft of Mix of Magics. I’m happy with it, although I know I still have a lot of editing to do on it. It will probably need to go through several more drafts. But the important thing is that I now have confidence in it.
One surprise awaited me as I wrote the final scene of the book. I had intended this to be the third and final book of a trilogy. But the ending, while in no way a cliff-hanger, did open itself to something I needed to explore further. So there will be a sequel. I have the characters, the setting, the plot. And it will take the series exactly where I wanted it to go.
I also have a stand-alone fantasy that I’d started when I was stuck as to how to proceed with Mix of Magics. I have to go back to it and finish it. And that should go well, because ideas are pouring forth for that novel too.
This sort of thing is what makes writing such fun. Just when nothing seems to be working and I’m ready to give up, a small thing, a “What if …?” opens up a whole new line of thinking. A suggestion from a friend. A picture in a magazine. A casual conversation. A line in a book. And suddenly ideas pour forth and the muse returns from vacation all ready to inspire, and everything falls into place.
I love writing! Life is sweet.
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