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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Working on a book you love.

I had almost forgotten what it was like, working on a book I really love. It's been about two years, I realized today, that I've been on this bloody plateau and every goddamned word has been screaming agony. In the sweat of thy brow, and all that.

I've written or cowritten five books (Worldwired, One-Eyed Jack, A Companion to Wolves, Whiskey & Water, and Carnival) since I finished the first draft of this damned thing. When I was writing it--especially the last third--it was an exercise in prying the motherfucker out of my brain any goddamned way I could, because it was huge and it was stuck and it hurt coming out. It was the most ambitious thing I'd ever written. It still may be, although Whiskey & Water--excuse me, Whiskey AND Water--comes in a hard contender too.

And the thing is, looking at it now, I like this book. I mean, I really like it. I'm enjoying reading it as I'm working on it, and I'm enjoying the characters and their banter and even their rampant PTSD. (It will surprise nobody that most of my characters exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress sooner or later. Some walk in with it.)

And the thing is, I know it's going to be a monster to market this thing, because even cut in two, the first part is 150K and the second part is 105K, and no, it can't be cut into more evenly sized chunks because it's in a five-act structure rather than a three-act structure, and no, neither half is a complete arc (though there is a kind of brutal low point, paradigm shift, and pause in the action at the end of Act III, as it appropriate for the intermission).

But it keeps making me smile and want to hug it, because it's so pretty. And so uncompromising, and it takes risks that make me wince when I read them, because I can already read the hate mail.

But it doesn't matter. I do love this book. And I haven't loved any of the books I've written since with quite the same passion, because I was working too hard, and there was some huge internalization of a skill jump going on, and I was clawing my eyes out to keep up with what the demon was driving me to, or something.

I love this book. And it's maybe not all that commercial (See above, VAST WINGSPAN, not easily divisible into two complete arcs--if this sells as two books, it will be, very obviously, one book cut in half, and there's no chance of making either half stand alone) but man, I really think it's good.

And besides, it's fun! I remember fun! I remember what fun books were like!

How can you not adore a book that has bits like this:

"T'was thee thyself that said thou would'st liefer lose thy life than thy liberty of speech."

"Aye," he answered, standing. These are not people. Lest you ever forget. The Fae are not people. And who am to judge someone who has done what he has done because he did it? "I do recall saying it. And I do recall dying for it too. Good day to you."
I need to do this fun thing more often, I think.


Bear, I have to ask you then, as someone who has stopped writing -- if it's so painful, these last books, why were you still doing it? I'm not being sarcastic -- I really would like to know. Was it worth it?
*g* that's a complicated question. Partially, it's because this is what I do, and what the hell else am I good for? Partially, it's because it's not as if the stories will leave me alone just because writing them isn't fun. Partially it's because this is how I make my living, and even when it's hard and it hurts, it's still the best job in the world. If I don't tell the stories, then nobody will ever have the chance to read them, and this is the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life.

And then there's the practicla reasons: books under contract, for example, and the sad fact that--in my own experience--not only does one not get significantly better at it unless one pushes through the hard parts, but also there's the issue that the parts that are agony to write, according both to people I trust and to myself, when I go back and read them later, aren't actually detectably any different in quality than the parts that are easy.

But yeah, I haven't hit a patch of flow, or--if you like--inspiration since 2003 some time. It's been pick and shovel work the whole damned way. And it's been a rough couple of years.

But, you know, it beats customer service work.
Hooray for finding the fun again!
well, risks are good, surely.

when you say it's over 100k, is that words?

is it fun BECAUSE it was so hard coming out and now it's specialer than easier brain-births?
Yes. First part is 150K words, and the second is about 105K.

And there have been harder books, which I have hated with sublime passion while working on them.

Oddly enough, my agent claims that the more I hate a book and thrash and scream while writing it, the better it likely is. Though she liked this one an awful lot, too, so maybe for once my inner editor was right.
I adored that book from the get-go - but you knew that already. *g*
Bully for you!

I'm rather jealous of your process. With me, it's like, The Exciting Initial Word Spew! and then endless, endless! re-writing, re-thinking, looking at every word like it's a tire with a possible leak.

Ah, see, I just get that bit from the beginning, mostly.
I do look forward to having the chance to read (and pimp) it, no matter what form it finally takes in the real world...
I love what I'm writing too, because I love the people. The thing that's making me pound my head on the desk is -- as usual -- the plotting.

Worry about the marketing when it's done. :-)

And if it helps, I'm counting down the days to Worldwired. I'll even happily put aside all my shiney samurai research to squeeze in some more reading time. (And I faced the first two books out at B&N the last time I was there. Bwahahahhaa! phear my 3vi1 sub1imin4l pwrz!)
Thank you!

Worry about the marketing when it's done. :-)

Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury, since I'm currently deciding what shape it should be in for submittal.
They published "To Green Angel Tower," remember. :)
If it's fun for you to be writing it, rest assured that it's fun to be over here, /reading/ about you having fun writing it. A book in which practically everything is a darling, and you get to keep it that way.

S'cool. Congratulations on having something that will satisfy and frustrate you in totally different ways from what you've been doing.
A book in which practically everything is a darling, and you get to keep it that way.

That's the problem I forsee, actually. I can already guess what my editor is going to want done to it, if she likes the book enough to buy it, and--frankly--I can't bloody see a way to do any of the things that will probably be recommended, or I'd be doing them now. It's that cutting-the-plot-arc-in-the-middle thing. It results in wicked cliff hangers.

*g* Ah well. I guess then I can make her earn her keep, huh?
Oh yes. If the passage you quote is "fun", have LOTS more fun!
A euphony issue: :) :P"

I don't like the end of that sentence. The repition of the pronoun offends something in my ear. Mind you that same offense rears its head if I recast it with the modern "you" forms.

I'd drop the last "thy", or make it (if you think the scansion of it needs the syllable) "the liberty of speech."

Mind you, I've no context, and it may be a single person's liberty of speech; and so real plot point, but it still feels clunky to me.

*vbg* It has to be "thy," alas, as it's a recasting of a direct quote.
Man, it should be. The last few have been serious problem children, though.


If it'll help your pitch when the time comes, I can provide a list of (a) other Elizabethan historical fiction featuring Kit and/or Will, and (b) other recent Elizabethan fantasy, as proof there's a market out there...

I mean, Sarah Hoyt managed to get her Kit+Will+fairy fantasy trilogy published in the last couple years, and SM+sequel are far better.

Re: Noncommercial

Thank you, but I think that's not going to be the problem--if there even is one. I may be borrowing trouble. My concern is the *size* of the damned thing and the way it doesn't chunk up neatly.

...I'd better go win a few more awards...

(thank you for the vote of confidence, BTW.)