I started writing book2 of The Cahill Witch Chronicles today.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been brainstorming, outlining, and writing synopses with Amazing Editor. It has been good and challenging and exciting and frustrating. There were days when bits of the plot clicked into place like puzzle pieces and there were days (well, one day) when I cried at Office Depot because I felt like I sucked so much. Plotting does not come easily to me. And thinking it through–really thinking it through, and having to make sure it made sense not only to me but to my editor, instead of just leaping into it and figuring it out as I went–was an entirely new way of doing it for me.
I haven’t seen many writers share about this part of the process. I wanted to because, honestly, it was hard. The original outline was way too episodic, without a cohesive arc; it would have fallen right into dreaded middle-book territory. And I had lots of ideas, but without having written anything, it was hard for me to know what would work. When Ari asked questions, I didn’t have answers. Why would this organization do X? If they do Y, what does it mean for Z? I spent more time than I care to admit sulking in front of the fan, all, I don’t know! How am I supposed to know? How do you know before you write anything? OMG I suck. Does everyone else just KNOW before they write? I wanted to be open to all the fabulous ideas Ari and her Genius Assistant were tossing out, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t automatically agreeing to anything to please them. And on the flip side, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t saying no to something that could rock because I felt defensive. It was easy to feel defensive. I am a girl who likes to get the answer right, and lots of my answers were not yet fully-baked, and sharing them felt kind of weird and vulnerable. Sometimes I realized that upon further thought, the shiny hooky plot idea didn’t actually make sense. Or it was nice and dramatic but it wasn’t something Cate would do. Or that it was a fantastic idea–for book 3. It’s hard when someone says your idea won’t work or questions it or rearranges it–even when it’s very nicely–even when it’s someone you adore and respect–even when you know that it’s going to make it a better, tighter, complete-in-its-own-arc middle book. When you are used to doing it yourself, without a team–it’s hard to push your own ego out of the way. It’s especially hard to do it without feeling like you suck.
But it’s worth it. Because now I have an outline, a strong spine for a book that I am really excited to write.
I wrote for 3 hours this morning, and I promptly felt happier and more like myself than I have in weeks.
I’ve decided my goal is 1200 words, 5 days a week, which is roughly 5 pages. That’s roughly two chapters a week, which I shall feed to The Playwright and my best friend and my brilliant CP, who are excellent first-draft cheerleaders but will also tell me when things get wonky.
I had this absurd fear that I would sit down at the coffee shop this morning, armed with Snow Patrol on my iPod and a cinnamon scone and Earl Grey, and not be able to write. That I’d have forgotten how.
But I didn’t! I still know how. And it’s very happy-making.