Friday, August 5, 2011

Behind The Curtain

Happy Friday, all! First things first, before I forget, if you are in the Nashville area, I will BE THERE THIS MONDAY NIGHT! Yes! August 8, from 6:30 until 8:30, me and some of my Author Buddies will be at the Brentwood Barnes and Noble. Come see us! Details here!

Okay, so I had ALL THIS STUFF I wanted to talk about today as we near the end of the summer. This summer has been a weird one for me, although far, far better than last summer, AKA That Time The Husband Had To Live In Norway For 2 Months and a Reindeer Nearly Killed Him And Oh Yeah, He Also Grew This Beard:


And did he purposely save this beard until he could get a new driver's license photo, thus preserving it for all time or at least the next four years? Yes. Yes, he did.

Hmmm... Looking at that picture, I now realize that The Husband bore a striking resemblance to Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.



Anyway, last summer was sad because The Husband was far, far away and I like having him around and stuff. THIS summer was weird because I was coming off an INTENSELY weird spring, wherein several AMAZING things happened. DEMONGLASS came out! And you guys got to READ IT! And then I got to travel 'round the country with my New BFF, Sarwat! And then DEMONGLASS spent 2 weeks on the NYT list, and made me feel a combination of :D and 0_o for nearly a month!

But, as is the way with life sometimes, all this amazingness had to be balanced by some sucktasticness. In this case, the sucktasticness was every drop of my Writing Mojo going, "PEACE OUT, HAWKINS!"


"Where the f*** are you going, Writing Mojo? I NEED TO WRITE BOOKS, YOU KNOW."

I've said before that I don't believe in writer's block, and I hold to that. In this case, I wasn't BLOCKED so much as every word I typed felt like someone was pulling teeth in my soul. My soul-teeth as it were.


This is what happens when you do a Google Image search for "soul teeth."

There are lots of reasons for that, and it the first two drafts of this post, I went into them at length. But then I was all, "Eh, this feels slightly self-indulgent, and also I am Southern, and therefore anything that feels like Revealing My Bizness makes me break out in hives." So I'll give you the condensed version and say that I suspect my Writing Mojo deserted me for the following reasons.

1)The past few years have been full of Change, and while 99.9% of that change was RAD, it was still Change, and Change=Stress, and Stress Is The Word Killer. Or something like that.


"It's actually 'Fear Is the Mind Killer.' We are so kicking you out of the Bene Gesserit now, Rachel."


2)I am still new at this and it's taken me this long to figure out how to balance the author/writer parts of myself, as I've discussed before. Also, the way I wrote books before I was a Published Author Type Person was not a particularly sustainable process, and that eventually bit me in the gluteus maximus.

This was basically my schedule for HEX HALL:

Monday: Write 4K words
Tuesday: Futz with those words
Wednesday: Pretend to be working by making a playlist/reading a baby name book/researching various kinds of supernatural beasties/translating random words into Latin (Fun Fact: That's actually how I came up with the term "Prodigium.")
Thursday: Write 5K words
Friday-Tuesday: Sit on the couch and rest because brain is leaking out of ears.
Wednesday: Write 6K words.
Thursday: Scrap those 6K words, write 6K MORE BETTER words.

And so on.

Now just repeat that schedule for three months, add an extra month where I abandoned the book altogether, then throw in the last day where I wrote 10K words in under 24 hours, and you have what writing HEX HALL looked like. Do you see where that might not be the BEST way to write a book when you ALSO have to edit a 2nd book, and promote a third, and also try to maintain some degree of sanity?

3)I carried a lot of fears/beliefs over from my Pre-Published days without taking into account that now writing was FER SERIOUS MY JOB AND STUFF. Namely that you can NEVER EVER EVER work on something else except your current WIP because then you will ABANDON your WIP, and NEVER FINISH and then you will NEVER BE A WRITER OMG. But the thing is, once writing is your actual career, I think those little side projects and fancies are actually a really necessary thing. I love writing. It is the best job in the world. But you know what? It's still a job. And that means some days it isn't fun. I think that if I'd sat down at my computer and said, "Okay, you can have 30 minutes/500 words/whatever you deem appropriate to write WHATEVER you want," I probably could have gone into the writing I had to do that day a lot happier. When you don't let yourself be free sometimes, your WIP becomes less that fun world you get to create and more like that lame friend your mom MAKES you hang out with because she and the Lame Friend's mom are in Sunday School together, even though you'd MUCH RATHER go play with your AWESOME NEW FRIENDS who have COOL HAIR and smoke CLOVE CIGARETTES and are just generally MORE WINNING AT LIFE.


The Fun WIP. Also, Responsible Adult Note: Do not smoke clove cigarettes. They're kind of gross and they will make you smell like you just celebrated Christmas in Hell.

4)SPELL BOUND was really hard to write. Like, harder than I ever thought it would be. It was the first book I wrote as a Published Author Type Person (DEMONGLASS was turned in before HEX HALL ever came out), and it was the end of the series, and I wanted to be SURE I was leaving all of you with a fabulous ending, and because I STILL hadn't developed an especially sustainable writing process, I struggled with it a lot. In the end, everything worked out and I actually think this book may be the best of the series. But at the time, fighting with it so hard really, really rattled my confidence. And it meant that when I turned around to work on my NEXT book, I was nearly having panic attacks just opening the Word document.


RWAR I'M YOUR NEXT BOOK AND IMMA EAT YOU, RACHEL!

Anyway, all of this is to say that while I've been a FT writer for nearly 4 years, I've only been a Published Author Type Person since March 2010, and it's taken me this long to finally start figuring some stuff out. That's what this summer was about for me: getting my feet back under me as a writer. Learning to have fun again and to shut out the voices in my head that were screaming, "YOU ARE A LOSERY LOSER! PEOPLE WOULD KILL TO HAVE THIS JOB SO WHY IS IT MAKING YOU SO FULL OF THE SADS? OH, RIGHT BECAUSE YOU ARE A LOSERY LOSER."

I also had to accept that the days of 5K words/day were probably gone forever. Heck, the days of 2K words/day are gone. From now on, it's 500-1000 words a day, five days a week. It's slower, and it's a weirder way for me to work because I think my natural inclination will always be towards the Furious Flurries of Words, but that was clearly not working. Honestly, it took me nearly 2 years and four books to realize that my writing process had to change, but there you go.

And I'm also ridiculously grateful to work with such amazing people who, when I said, "Okay, this train is moving a WEE BIT FAST, can we perhaps slow down a touch?" all said, "Alrighty then!" Okay, they didn't actually say "Alrighty, then!" because that is a lame thing to say, and all the people on Team Hex/Team Belle are, as previously implied, Amazeballs. And I'm super-glad that if I had to have a mini-burnout, it came now when there was a little wiggle room, and that SPELL BOUND was already turned in! It DOES mean that REBEL BELLE probably won't come out until 2013 now, but at least there's not a 2 year gap between books in a series.


Or a FIVE YEAR GAP. Don't think I've forgotten, George R.R. Martin.

So there you have it! I kind of feel like I just showed y'all my Writing Panties (I will not even ATTEMPT a Google Image search for that one), but I wanted to let y'all know what's been going on with me and, if any of you are Published Author Type Persons or Aspiring Author Type Persons, to let you see a little peek behind the curtain. I think we talk so much about the struggle TO get published that we don't always realize there are struggles ONCE we're published. Or if we DO talk about things that are rough post-publication, it tends to be about the Author Side Struggles (bad covers, bad sales, bad reviews, no new sales, etc.), and less about the Writer Side Struggles.

But this story does have a happy ending! Yes, it took tears, and hair pulling, and the most emo journal entries this side of 7th grade, and more cookies than I'm comfortable talking about, but over the course of this summer, I've found my way back to having fun with writing, so much so that the other day, The Husband noticed I was staring into space and asked, "What are you smiling about?" And I realized I was sitting there, day dreaming about the book I was working on, grinning like an idiot. So if anyone else is out there in the Dark No Man's Land of No Words, they'll come back. And lo, life can be all flowers and sausages once again.



Yup.

Until next time! XOXO!

29 comments:

loreleimarsh said...

Thanks for sharing! While I have no aspirations to become an author, it's good to know how much y'all go through to make a story come to life. It means a lot to those of us who enjoy your work!

Sophie said...

I love your honesty as much as I adore BinBons. And you know how much that is.... (((hugs))) and here's to moving forward.

Trisha Leigh said...

This is a great post content wise, but your delivery just made me fall in love with you a little. I'm off to grow a beard!

Jodi Meadows said...

This is SCARY USEFUL FOR ME RIGHT NOW, RACHEL. (Also I'm glad you're not crazy anymore.)

mavso29 said...

I always love reading your blog posts because you make them so much fun and amazingly descriptive. Totally LOL'd at the Yukon Cornelius comparison.
I <3 you and your work. Glad to hear you are figuring things out :)

mavso29 said...

I always love reading your blog posts because you make them so much fun and amazingly descriptive. Totally LOL'd at the Yukon Cornelius comparison.
I <3 you and your work. Glad to hear you are figuring things out :)

mavso29 said...

I always love reading your blog posts because you make them so much fun and amazingly descriptive. Totally LOL'd at the Yukon Cornelius comparison.
I <3 you and your work. Glad to hear you are figuring things out :)

mavso29 said...

Sorry! My browser wigged out...

veela-valoom said...

<3 <3 <3

Honestly is always loved. Great post, insightful and humorous as only you are.

SilverInk said...

I love the enthusiasm that just radiates off this blogpost. I stumbled upon Hex Hall a few days ago and just finished reading Demonglass on my kindle and was like "OMGOMGOMG CLIFFHANGER NUUUUU." I love the wit and spunk in your writing!

Fangirling aside, thanks for sharing :) I like to write myself, so it's always fun and educational listening to another writer's words.

Thanks! =)

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Shannon Dittemore said...

Love, love reading this. Not because you had a rough summer, obviously, but because it validates a ton of the insecurities I seem to have developed working on the second in my series.

My first launches next summer and by then all three will be written. Insane, right? It took me two years to write book one and now, in a year, I'll complete two more, edit, promote and release one.

It's havoc on your mojo. And I love that I'm not alone in it and that there's light on the other side. Thanks for the reminder, Rachel.

God bless and happy writing.

Suzette said...

Loved your post!
I'm just wondering what is Rebel Belle?? Is that a new book I don't know about?! And you said you had four books but I just know of two? Help me out!!
Suzette

Delchick41 said...

I'm so glad that you posted your thoughts about what the life after being a published author is like. I always new there was probably pressure not only from outside sources e.g., publishers, agents, fans, etc; but also about the pressure from within oneself to keep the "writing mojo" alive. I'm am a struggling, just getting, started, hope to be published someday, writer and I just love how funny and honest you are. I love your books by the way. Thanks for all the insight that you share in your blog. Good luck!

Delchick41 said...

Yeah, better work on the spelling huh lol.

Captain D said...

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog Rachel. I'm a Hoping to Be Published Person and also happen to adore your books. Thank you so much for giving insight on the road to getting published and also what it's like BEING published. Also, I may have to re-vamp my writing process too because mine was eerily similar to yours ;o) Anyway, glad things are going well after a rough summer and looking forward to your next book(and blog!)

Audrey said...

Girl. I was messing around an goodreads yesterday and it brought me to Hex Hall and I was like "Oh that sounds pretty cool, but I'm a grown up 21 year old (read: recently called my mom crying because i couldn't find the bus that was supposed to take me to my apartment), so I'll probably pass." But then it kept coming back so I relented and spent yesterday and today reading Hex Hall and Demonglass even though I was supposed to be reading my Social Problems book/having a social life. I am obsessed.
Love your books, love your characters, love your style. And now I love your blog. You're just great in general. Never forget it.
Sidenote: As a fellow southerner, I feel you on the hives thing. I swear my parents ended every conversation with "Now you know this doesn't leave the house, right?" when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

I read hex hall and demon glass in two days. Did you say demon glass was the last of the series?? I loved the books, I hope you write a third to the series.!!!!Well I want you to write a third to the series.

Ashley said...

What a great post. Read Hex Hall and Demonglass over the weekend and can't wait for the next book. Glad you got your mojo back!

cnewberry said...

I was recently in the store with my family when i spotted a box set of george r.r. martin books. i started to laugh hysterically like some mentally unstable being (not like i would know what it was like to be one or anything)
my family now doesn't even ask when i laugh for no reason (this is a relief since apparently i do this often) thank you for the awesome blog that i find both amusing and inspirational

fra & fede said...

Hi Rachel, my name is Francesca and I'm a blogger from Italy; I would love to read your books, please tell me they're going to be released in Italy as soon as possible!! :)

Anonymous said...

Rachel, are you alive??

Signed: Your starved for attention blog :)

Gloria said...

I totally <3 writing but I can't really write like a book's length, so I usually write short stories and poems. But still <3!!!! And my life is all flowers and sausages. LOL.

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