The last year finally paid off. A novel that had been stewing in the back of my mind for the last several years. The novel, Mermaid’s Curse, started out as a simple thing. The name, actually. A cursed mermaid, never allowed to fall in love least she die, and Brother Hawk, a man cursed to be a hawk, and suffer the will of the priesthood who visited inhumane tortures on him for centuries.
I finished the first book of the trilogy today. The last stubborn chapter that kept whispering that it needed to be there, but wouldn’t tell me why it needed to be there until just last week. It is the third novel that I’ve completed. It actually has a few threads in common with the first book I wrote (the one that died in the computer crash.) I subconsciously picked out the best parts of that novel and used it in this one.
With each novel I’ve learned something about myself, and my writing habits. With this particular completion I learned quite a bit more then ever before.
Mermaid’s Curse: Book 1 is just over 50,000 words. It took almost a year to complete. Keep in mind that I started Mermaid’s Curse as a single book and it has since become a trilogy. Book 2 is now just over 50,000 words, as well, and should be about 52,000 words when finished. Book 3 is currently 5000 words of plot. It’s going to be at leas 50-60,000 words when finished. That’s a lot of writing. 50,000 of which was done just last November during NaNoWriMo.
What I learned:
You can’t force the story sometimes. I had everything finished for Book 1 except for one small chapter. I agonized over that chapter for a while, added a few words, added some notes, deleted them, and wrote some more. But the chapter sucked no matter how I wrote it. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what.
So I skipped ahead, wrote some other chapters, finished whole scenes and gave up on that one chapter. I even tried cutting that chapter out because if it was that horrible and boring it probably didn’t need to be in the book, right? Wrong. Without that chapter linking the rest of the book together the story kind of had an abrupt shift that felt ungainly and… just wrong.
So that chapter sat in the back of my mind for months while I polished off other chapters, rewrote sections, and decided the novel was actually a trilogy. Then one day I was taking a shower and think about another problem chapter and it was like magic. All the pieces slid into themselves.
Oddly enough the pieces fell into place because I started plotting the third book. As I plotted the third book I saw more of the world, saw new characters, and realized what needed to happen at the end of Book 2 to make Book 3 carry on. It was always the end of the books that gave me the most trouble. Once I figured out the end of Book 3 the chapters for Book 2, and that one stubborn chapter from Book 1 just snapped into place. I wrote 2000 words that night just trying to get down all the plot points so I knew what to write the next day.
Really, the thing that did it in the end was just keeping the story in the back of my mind while I went about the rest of my day. Jotting down ideas helped a little, but when it finally snapped into place it had nothing to do with forcing it, and everything to do with just letting it happen naturally.
The next thing I learned was about time. You only have so much. Use it wisely.
I can’t tell you how many times I sat down to the PC and my daughter would suddenly need to use the computer, or my son would need help with homework, or my boyfriend would just need attention. Families take a lot of time and energy, and they are so worth it. But this means that taking those moments you get to write, pouncing on them and using them to your advantage means EVERYTHING. Even the few minutes you have on a car trip to think about the story and come up with a plan to jot down on a note is better then nothing at all.
Finishing feels SOOOOOO GOOD. (Yes, read that however you want.)
When I finally completed that chapter that I had been stuck on for a year I was so excited. I almost wanted to dance for joy. I texted four people and told them I’M FINISHED! I was that happy.
Whatever you’re working on, finish it. Doesn’t matter if it’s terrible, if you have to throw it out and start over, or if you just want to burn it in a fire. Finish it. That sense of completion will give you more inspiration and perseverance then all the self help and uplifting posters with kitties hanging in there that you will ever see.