Monday, May 18, 2015


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.

On 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 this work.

It hasn’t worked out quite thus, but on with the WIP I am in any case.

When 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 vulnerability.

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.”

That’s 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 prospects entirely.

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.

I 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.

Myth, really.

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.

So – 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 failures …

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.

I didn’t know just how much #WeNeedDiverseBooks would get into my blood, and amplify characters I didn’t really realize the novel was about.

Its’ 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.

What 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).

She’s 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 little brain.

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 them.

And so: exciting times. Even as they’re indubitably weird times.

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