In the space of two weeks, I have finished two separate novels. At the moment, this means that I am without a current writing project, so I must take the terrifying first step toward outlining, storyboarding, and brainstorming while knowing that whatever ideas I have now will change before I write “the end” again. Having gone through the writing process not once but twice on such a large scale, the idea of starting against is frightening.
The first novel I finished in the past weeks, Hollow, is a solo project. An enforcer for an abyssal syndicate must secure a new heart for his boss, even as his own time on earth is running out. I’m working on the one sentence pitch. I’ve realized (like many other authors, I’m betting) that I have a hard time describing the stories that I write. Hollow has taken several years, from the initial concept and a conversation to a comic script to three drafts, one NaNoWriMo, and two separate promises/dares that a draft would be finished before Balticon. Hollow is an urban fantasy set in the fictional town of Las Perditas, New Mexico, where abyssal demons and fallen angels fight for dominion over the earthly realm. It took two full rewrites and the use of a very patient editor to get it to its current beta-reader ready state.
I confess, I am terrified. Hollow is the first story I’ve written on my own without any kind of coauthor, and it’s a story that I wrote in somewhat of a vacuum. I presented a few of the ideas within the story to acquaintances and author-friends, but I also felt silly about talking about demons and fallen angels and heart replacements and apple pie. So, I stayed quiet until the story was finished and I managed to read a sample at Balticon this past year. I’ve had some feedback on the story and I earned the indignant “why did you do that to that character” from my husband, who’s never read any of my work before, so I considered that a small badge of honor. But, I’m still worried about the feedback I’ll get from beta readers.
The second story, Broken, is a collaborative project with Cedric “Zen” Johnson. From start to finish, the writing process took just under five months. This story involved familiar characters that evolved from characters within the City of Heroes universe more than eight years ago. Zen and I moved rapidly through the scenes, writing the story of two young adults whose lives change forever at the hand of a hungry young man named Rafael Sala. In a city of Charlton where a broad line exists between the have and have-nots, corporations and gangs control the lives of the people who struggle to survive in the neighborhood known as the Terrace. Zen and I wrote the characters of Criofan Byrne and Miranda Garren at what might be a breakneck speed, creating the lives of these two characters via Google Drive and countless chats.
I have ten times the amount of faith in Broken than I have in Hollow, and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s because there’s less pressure in showing off a collaborative effort. I feel that writing with Zen has improved how I tell a story and craft a character. I think that if I’d gone off course in the writing, it didn’t appear in the final draft. Of course, this is kind of silly… Sue Baiman edited Hollow for me and her notes have tightened up that story to a more cohesive tale. I trust her judgment and opinion regarding Hollow, but… I’m still nervous.
And now that both are done, it’s time to start all over again.