The other day I was babbling about a round of revisions to Bri, who then said, “I’m just secretly stalking all your progress on this novel.”
Well first of all, Bri, it’s not so secret when you straight up tell me that.
But then it made me think: hey, the whole point of restarting my blog was to hold myself more accountable for things anyway. So…why not publicly share my project statuses?
So here goes. The current novel-length things:
RU//SS: This novel was brand new as of last year. I’m actually not sure what genre to call it, so I’ve been going with urban fantasy. It’s clocking in at about 110,000 words right now. I’m finishing up the third big draft of it, where I’ve been doing a huge restructuring of everything. Revising the last two chapters of it this week; it’s exciting to be so close to done on this round of edits. Then I’m going to go back to the very beginning and start fixing up the prose and rounding out the characters. Who knows how long that’ll take me. Whenever that’s finished, Loren is going to read it.
USLS: This was originally the literary novel I started at the beginning of my MFA. Last year I began overhauling it and changed it to a literary YA. This year I went back and overhauled it again. Now it’s like…a young YA or maybe high middle grade? Not sure yet. Still literary though, and now with a bunch of magical realism (or you might even call it fantasy) woven in. I’m pretty deep into the new draft of this, but already have stuff that I know is going to change. I hesitate to call this a revision because the story is so, so different now. It’s a new cast of characters; the plot points are nothing like the original. The only thing that makes this novel in its current iteration look anything like the version I started with is that the grandmother in the story has the exact history of my own grandmother. Which makes sense; she was the reason I began this project in the first place.
RAF: This is a new idea that started percolating when I was in the shower the other day. I jumped out of the shower, still a bit soapy, to grab my computer and get the basic characters and outline down on paper. This is adult literary, with a touch of magical realism. It’s actually a project idea born directly out of my grief for my aunt. I’m a little scared to write it. But I think it might be one of the most important novels for me to ever work on. I’m letting this cook some more in my brain, and I think I might start drafting it in earnest in a month or two.
TCW: Threw this novel on the list just for the friends who have been asking. This was my MFA thesis, and it’s what won the 2013 Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest. Am I still working on it? No, not at the moment. It’s in the drawer. All 120,000+ words of it. I wrote eleven big drafts, and I did them back to back at such a ridiculous speed, with no breaks in between…that I burned myself out. It got really messy because of a couple specific restructuring decisions I made for the wrong reasons. I did get really really great and encouraging feedback from agents who read it. A couple said they’d be interested in seeing a rewrite. One agent was torn and passed because another client had a project that was a little too similar. After that I stepped away from the vehicle, as Zadie Smith would say, to give myself some proper distance from it. I figured I’d come back to it for a twelfth draft when it was good and forgotten. So I threw myself into my other novels. And then one day much later I noticed that I’d started using a couple of my favorite elements from this story and reapplying them, more effectively, to my new projects. That was when I realized I was pretty much over this novel. And I feel pretty okay about it. It was so, so important that I wrote those eleven drafts. I learned so much from that process about how to edit and restructure, and about how my brain worked. I got what I needed from it, so it’s fine with me if this project lives out the rest of its days in the drawer.
Whew. It’s simultaneously encouraging and daunting to look at that list written out like that. My progress this year has been so much slower due to all the big life events going on, but at least looking at this I have evidence that the progress is real. I also have some short stories I’ve been working on between the cracks, when my mind needs a break. Next year maybe I’ll set a more specific short story goal…