The WIP is at that sweet spot stage where I’m giddy as a schoolgirl getting to know it, shyly gazing at its characters and treading a little deeper into its world and generally having quite a crush on it … and *just* beginning to formulate more acute interests in it, which will direct research for a while.
This stage, of course, has curtailed
my usual blog reading and writing, but I suspect a general wellbeing
ensues, without readers gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair with
less of my blather to consume. Russia and Ukraine, for their parts, are
certainly barfing all over my stats; still getting hundreds of bots
every day cruising in here, so at least there *are* hits showing up –
even if most of them happen to be horsefeathers.
It’s an interesting time for a writer, this period of a new work – and a downright entangling time for me.
the one hand, I’ve had this novel in mind since very very early indeed
in the going with The Ax and the Vase; it came up during research for
that, and the captivation I had for the subject has never diminished.
Indeed, through the querying periods for Ax, it wasn’t rare I wished
that could all be over with, I’d be agented and be able to get on with
It hasn’t worked out quite thus, but on with the WIP I am in any case.
we meet someone who excites us romantically, there are phases of being,
and if a relationship ensues, changes come fast and furious. It’s all
very exciting, even as it’s giddy in some ways that remind us of our
It’s hard, that is to say, to read Janet’s blog
(and commenting community – such as I can these days) about How Long It Takes to write a novel, and not think both, “I’m working so much
faster than I did on the first one” and “Yeah, but faster than a decade
is still hardly market-speedy.” Hard not to be excited—and, at the same
time, remember my experience with Ax.
I’m a confident cuss. But
that has done its damage, and as much as I know this book is different
(in good and publication-necessary ways), there absolutely IS some
temptation to stick with the liberty and freedom of just never becoming a published author (nartist/freedom links).
But back to “that stage” …
I was once told by an ex, “I am quakingly aware of my capacity to fall in love with you.”
where I am right now. I’ve been swept off my feet. I’ve had the second
look, more deeply apprasing prospects with my new crush. I’ve started to
figure out the fit, and some of the surprises too. The unexpected
things are happening – both binding me more tightly to the work, and
blindsiding me with expectation-bending surprises that change the
This WIP – born of Ax though it indubitably is – has never been a sequel, never even been tightly tied to The Ax and the Vase.
And yet, the extent to which it is turning out to be unalike is still a breathtaking vista.
knew the fundamentals would be not merely different, but outright
foreign (figuratively … literally) to Ax. One was first-person from a
single POV, told by the possibly unreliable narrator of His Own Glorious
Destiny. One was an overwhelmingly male story. Story of power, story of
success, story of a bunch of men in the late-antique North. Story of
the building of a nation.
Ax is a ripping yarn, and its central facets are those I’ve come to fear are in fact its stumbling blocks as a debut property.
– a novel in omniscient voice, a novel featuring more women’s voices
than men’s – a novel in which slaves (decidedly marginalized, in Ax)
play integral roles … a novel of riots and terrors and unrest and
I knew it would be another proposition.
What didn’t I know … ?
I honestly didn’t know how far I might shift from the character who first enticed me, whose story I thought I needed to tell.
I knew the POV would become more flexible, even inclusive.
didn’t know just how much #WeNeedDiverseBooks would get into my blood,
and amplify characters I didn’t really realize the novel was about.
been many years since I first sketched what still is the opening scene
of the WIP. I couldn’t resist it; needed to get one little yaya out,
needed to let that breath exhale – and, indeed, it was about all there
was to any kind of draft *writing* (as opposed to research, which
cropped up as I was researching Ax itself), until this year.
is interesting is that, in writing that first scene (a Grand Guignol
setpiece of a labor and delivery) – I researched and chose a name … and
included a fictional character. There was a face, even back then, on a
figure who didn’t necessarily need to exist so early on.
And she is becoming so much more than a supporting character.
I know her hair, I think I have heard her voice (no, seriously – on TV – I heard someone speaking with her timbre).
not alone in surprising me; or perhaps bringing to the fore things I
might hardly have suspected, but had somewhere in my wee and paltry
And that’s the thing. It’s in my brain; even if, to
me, it seems external, almost mystical – the idea is mine, if only by
right of conquest.
More ideas will show themselves, particularly
as I get into more research – little surprises about the way the world
worked, the food my characters ate, the color and pomp and dust around
And so: exciting times. Even as they’re indubitably weird times.