Follow me through the hardships, methods, and celebrations as I write the first book in my Blood and Ether trilogy, a young adult science fiction/fantasy.
My History With This Story
I’ve written several novels since I was 13. They were all garbage. I had the stamina to write a full-length novel and some good ideas, but I didn’t understand the craft. The manuscripts were the ramblings of a teenager with a typewriter. Later, ramblings of a twenty-something with a laptop.
I like to think I’m more humble now that I’m swimming in impersonal rejection slips from publishers, lit magazines, and agents. Now, in my late twenties (30 this October, whaaaa?), I understand that things take time. I’m a lot more patient, and because of that, I don’t mind taking the time to study. I’m not saying young people can’t write, I’m only saying that young me had a lot to learn. Age isn’t a factor – I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early or too late to hone your craft. There’s no expiration date on your dreams, and no magic age where the stars align and you’re finally allowed to chase your dreams.
When 13 year old me learned that S.E. Hinton published The Outsiders at 21, I set the bar pretty high for myself. I thought I’d be a best selling author by 21. And when I was eight, I thought that by the time I was 15 I’d have a good teaching job and eight kids. Things just don’t always work out how you planned.
I wrote Blood and Ether in high school. Only it wasn’t called Blood and Ether then, it was called Reign of Darkness (corny, I know), and it was riddled with plot holes and 16 year old logic. I’d blast Linkin Park and Korn and type away. It was an escape for me from a difficult life. I let a few friends and classmates read it, they all loved it. So imagine my surprise when I got nothing but rejections.
I rewrote this story a dozen times, but I never took the time to analyze its structure or pacing, the character arcs, the voice. On some level I understood those things instinctively, as all story tellers do, but I was winging my manuscript each time. That was fun, but I finally realized that doesn’t get you published. You can’t word barf 60,000 – 100,000 words, never look at the manuscript again and just ship it out like that. Writing the first draft is the fun part. But the real work comes with revisions, critique, and more revisions. I only wanted to do the fun part. Until now.
Where I Am With it Now
Before I can move on with other stories, I need to finish this trilogy. It’s haunted me for over a decade and I want to see the characters become what I know they can be. I originally planned to write two books, but I believe it’s forming into three. I may not continue to write Young Adult after this, but who knows. What I know for certain is that this story needs to come out of my brain and onto paper, and it needs to be right.
I outlined this time, meticulously. I’ve reworked some of the characters to give them more conflict and motivation to drive the plot. I took a hard look at them and realized their flaws. Now I can rest assured knowing that I am doing my best. If my best doesn’t cut it for agents or publishers this time around, I can self-publish. Whatever it takes to get the characters I love in front of their potential audience.
Writing used to be an escape from reality for me, but as an adult, my life is much more peaceful and stable than it was when I was a kid. Some people reminisce about childhood, lamenting the lost simplicity of life. I wouldn’t want to go backwards. So it’s not about that anymore, it’s about the love of the thing. The art of storytelling. I want people to enjoy what I write, but ultimately I’m writing because I enjoy it so much, and I will continue to write no matter how many rejection slips I get in the mail.
Right now I’m on chapter 5. I’ll write a scene or two, then let it ferment. I’ll reread, tweak some things, then write the next scene. It’s slower than I’m used to working, but I’m up for the challenge. My goal is to finish over the next month or so, then let it sit for at least a month before the next draft. The structure shouldn’t be an issue this time, since I outlined so carefully. What I know I’ll need to go over is phrasing, dialogue, and individual scenes.
Photo courtesy of A.Davey.