My Current Work in Progress

Today’s post falls on the self-indulgent side, but since this is manuscripts and marginalia…well, I should probably talk about my own manuscript. I’m affectionately referred to it as ze manuscript and more recently, Frankenscript. It’s been a long process, but I feel like I finally have clarity about my characters, my world, the story, and why all of it matters.

There’s a lot of writing advice out there; some good, some bad, some directly conflicting with each other. I know I’ve posted things about writing that my current perspective and approach oppose. For me, writing regularly has helped me find my focus and cultivate my own voice. I’m not quite sure the consistency is there, but I don’t know if it ever will be – and I expect to grow as a writer, so that may change over time anyway.

I talked to another 1:1000 editor this week about how 1:1000 has made a difference in how I write, too – being more myself in my drafts, and being able to step outside of myself for critiques. Not every writer wants, perhaps even needs, additional feedback on each piece. Me? I love the feedback process. The pieces I produced in 2013 compared to now? I know I’m a better writer.

And all that serves as background – a long overdue writing process reflection – for this post. It helps frame this, give it some context.

I’ve been writing something that’s both what I want to read and what I want to write. I describe it that way because I feel like for me, those two categories can be mutually exclusive:

  • If I write what I want to read, it’s a poor rehash of something that’s already been written that I like: a shittier A Song of Ice and Fire with some Tamora Pierce thrown in for fun. And dystopian/post-apocalyptic tropes. And puppies.
  • If I write what I want to write, I lose that self-critical side and just spew words out. I don’t challenge myself to be a better writer. I don’t like writing X, so I won’t write X. Alternately, I psych myself out with my audience and freak out thinking about how others will perceive. How soon I forget that haters shall hate.

I’ve reconceptualized my manuscript to blend both worlds, to the point where I find it difficult to separate them as I did above. What do I enjoy reading, and how can I write another perspective? What do I love and want to share? Or perhaps just:

Would I recommend the book I’m trying to write?

For a long time, the answer has been “no.” Maybe not a resounding, immediate “no.” Maybe it was a “no” that crept up on me, a “no” that emerged, transformed from a chrysalis. When I went to conferences, I had trouble pitching. Not because I was nervous or anxious, but because I had nothing new to say.

Now, I want to tell everyone – I want to show people outlines and drafts and character profiles. I have to remind myself that maybe putting all of that, unfinished and untethered, might not be the best idea. So instead, here are some things I will post, without the fear of internet plagiarism and getting ahead of myself.

The manuscript is unnamed. Previous iterations had been titled “The Merchant’s Daughter: Book One of the Cassandra Chronicles” or “Inferno.” Significant changes to characters, relationships, and events would result in those titles being wrong. For now, it’s just “the manuscript.” Uncapitalized, because a manuscript will not play a major role in the events themselves. Perhaps a manuscript will be mentioned. I’m not sure.

Here are some things that (as of now) will be in it:

Characters with agency. Female-driven fantasy. Plague. Imperial legacies. Magic. Subterranean settings. MTF transition. Manifest destiny. Parallel universes, or a vague semblance of them. Swearing. Sex. Death. Fog. Corrosion. Archaeology. Love, but not necessarily romance.

Stay tuned for more…

What are you writing?

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